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fiL r:^oi'6.h./o 



1g^%^%«?V%«^^<j<^^%«?^V^^ 




W%***w'W^^^^i^^^**if*'*i#*^^^ 



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y 



I 



I 

t 



THE MASTER KEY 



1 by n ^Toup of nat 



THE 
MASTER KElf 



An Electrical Fairy Tale 

FOUNDED UPON THE MYSTERIES OF ELECTRFCITY 
AND THE OPTIMISM OF ITS DEVOTEES. IT WAS ' 
WRITTEN FOR BOYS, BUT OTHERS MAY READ IT 



BY 

L. FRANK BAUM 



ILLUSTRATIONS BY 
F. Y. CORY 



<rhe BOWEN-MERRILL COMPANY 
PUBLISHERS . INDIANAPOLIS 



'^'i'i..'^.L..\0 



Copyright 1901 
Thb Bowen-Mbrriu, Company 




^^<^ O^.jcrcrC 3c.4 



PRESS OP 

BRATJNWORTH & CO. 

BOOKBJNDBRS AKD PRINTERS 

BROOKLYN, 5. Y. 



-r 






To my son 
Robert Stanton Baum 



/ 






CONTENTS 




Chapter 




Page 


I 


Rob's Workshop 


I 


II 


The Demon of Klectricity 


9 


III 


The Three Gifts 


I8 


IV 


Testing the Instruments 


29 


V 


The Cannibal Island 


43 


VI 


The Buccaneers 


60 


VII 


The Demon Becomes Angry 


78 


VIII 


Rob Acquires New Powers 


86 


IX 


The Second Journey 


97 



c o N r E N r s 



Chapter 

X How Rob Served a Mighty King 

XI The Man of Science 

XII How Rob Saved a Republic 

XIII Rob Loses His Treasures 

XIV Turk and Tatar 

XV A Battle With Monsters 

XVI Shipwrecked Mariners 

XVII The Coast of Oregon 

XVIII A Narrow Escape 

XIX Rob Makes a Resolution 

XX The Unhappy Fate of the Demon 



Page 
104 
126 

146 

160 
182 
192 
206 
214 
225 
230 





ILLUSTRATIONS 



Rob was surrounded by a group of natives of 
hideous appearan ce — Frontispiece 

From his workshop ran network of wires througli- 
out the house — Headpiece 

A quick flash of light almost blinded Rob 

A curious being looked upon him from a magnifi- 
cent radiance — Tailpiece 

Scientific men think the people of Mars have been 
trying to signal us — Headpiece 

I am here to do your bidding, said the Demon 
— Tailpiece 

Men have not yet discovered what the birds know 
— Headp iece 



Page 



I 

6 

8 



17 



iS 



ILL US TR A T I O NS 



Page 
Thcvsc three gifts may ainusu you for th« next week 

— Ta Up iccc 2 S 

Rob's action surprised them all — Headpiece 29 

"He'll break his neck!" cried the astounded 

father 36 

The red-whiskered policeman keeled over 

— T'a Up icce 4 2 

Rob's captors caught up the end of the rope and 

led him away — Headpiece 43 

"If it's just the same to you, old chap, I won't be 

eaten to-day" — Tailpiece 59 

Rob soared through the air with ?i\'Q Buccaneers 

dangling from his leg — Headpiece 60 

It was a strange sight to see the pirates drop to 

the deck and lie motionless GG 

When night fell his slumber was broken and un- 

e a sy — Ta Up iece 7 7 

When Rob had been kissed by his mother, he gave 

an account of his adventures — Headpiece 77 

Rob sat staring eagerly at the Demon — Tailpiece 85 

The Being drew from an inner pocket something 

resembling a box — Headpiece 86 

These spectacles will indicate the character of 

every one you meet — Tailpiece 96 



I L L US TR A ri O .VS 

Page 
Rob IS in truth a typical American boy 

— Headpiece 97 

Rob placed the indicator to a point north of east 

and began his journey — Tailpiece 103 

A crowd assembled, all shouting and pointing 

toward him in wonder — Headpiece 104 

A man rushed toward it, but the next moment he 

threw up his hands and fell unconscious 108 

Rob reached the entrance of the palace, only to 

face another group of guardsmen 114 

Rob only smiled in an amused way as he marched 

past them — Tailpiece 125 

A tremendous din and clatter nearly deafened 

hi m — Headp iece 126 

The eyes of the Frenchman were actually pro- 
truding from their sockets 128 

From an elevation of fifty feet or more Rob over- 
looked a pretty garden — Headpiece 136 

Placing the record so that the President could see 
clearly, Rob watched the changing expres- 
sions upon the great man's face 140 

Rob experienced a decided sense of relief as he 

mixed with the gay j^opulace — Tailpiece 145 

Beneath him stretched a vast sandy i^lain, and 
speeding across this he came to a land 
abounding in \^^'^\.'Si>i\oxi^Headpiece 146 



ILL US TR A TI O NS 

Page 
" Those fellows seem to be looking for trouble'** 150 

Uttering cries of terror and dismay, the three 

Turks took to their heels 158 

Rob was miserable and unhappy, and remained 

brooding over his cruel fate — Tailpiece 159 

The Tatars arrived swiftly and noiselessly 

— Ueadp iece 1 60 

The Turk rose slowly into the air, with Rob cling- 
ing to him with desperate tenacity 176 

Without more ado Rob mounted into the air, 

leaving the Turk staring after him — Tailpiece 181 

Coming toward him was an immense bird 

— Headp iece 186 

With one last scream the creature tumbled down- 
ward to join its fellow — Tailpiece 191 

During the next few hours Rob suffered from a 

severe attack of homesickness — Headpiece 192 

The disappointment of the sailors was something 

awful to witness 196 

As they slowly mounted into the sky the sailor 

gave a squeal of terror — Tailpiece 205 

Rob mounted skyward, to the unbounded amaze- 
ment of the fishermen, who stared after him 
— Jleadpicce 2p6 



ILL US TR A TI O NS 



Rob hovered over the great tower cf the Lick 
Observatory until he attracted the excited 
gaze of its inhabitants — Tailpiece 

Finding himself upon the lake front, Rob hunted 
up a vacant bench and sat down to rest 
— Headf iece 

As he started downward he saw the old gentleman 
looking at him with a half-frightened, half- 
curious expression — Tailpiece 

At precisely ten o'clock Rob reached the front 
door of his own house — Headpiece 

Rob boldly ascended the stairs, entered the work- 
shop and closed and locked the door — Tail- 
piece 

The Demon sank into a chair nerveless and limp, 
but still staring fearfully at the boy — Head- 
piece 

A flash of white light half-stunned and blinded 
Rob. When he recovered himself the De- 
mon had disappeared — Tailpiece 



Page 



213 



214 



224 



22: 



229 



230 



245 




WHO KNOWS? 

These things are quite improbable, to be 
sure; but are they impossible? 

Our big world rolls over as smoothly as 
It did centuries ago, without a squeak to 
show it needs oiling after all these j^ears of 
revolution. But times change because men 
change, and because civilization, like John 
Brown's soul, goes ever marching on. 

The impossibilities of 3'esterday become 
the accepted facts of to-day. 

Here is a fairy tale founded upon the 
wonders of electricity and written for chil- 
dren of this generation. Yet when my 
readers shall have become men and women 
my story may not seem to their children 
like a fairy tale at all. 

Perhaps one, perhaps two— perhaps sev- 
eral of the Demon's devices will be, by that 
time, in popular use. 

Who knows.? 



"/« wonder all philosophy began; in 
wonder it all ends ; and admiration 
fills up the interspace. But the first 
wonder is the offspring of ignorance : 
the last is the parent of adoration' 

— Coleridge. 



THE MASTER KEY 
CHAPTER ONE 

ROB'S WORKSHOP 

WIIENRobbecameinterested inelec- 
tricity his clear-headed father con- 
sidered the boy's fancy to be instructive as 
well as amusing; so he heartily encouraged 
his son, and Rob never lacked batteries, 
motors or suppHes of any sort that his ex- 
periments might require. 

He fitted up the little back room in the 

attic as his workshop, and from thence a 

net-work of wires soon ran throughout the 

house. Not onlj' had every outside door its 

I 



THE MASTER KEl 



electric bell, but every window was fitted 
with a burglar alarm; moreover no one could 
cross the threshold of any interior room with- 
out registering the fact in Rob's workshop. 
The gas was lighted by an electric fob; a 
chime, connected with an erratic clock in the 
boy's room, woke the servants at all hours 
of the night and caused the cook to give 
warning; a bell rang whenever the postman 
dropped a letter into the box; there were 
bells, bells, bells everywhere, ringing at the 
right time, the wrong time and all the time. 
And there were telephones in the different 
rooms, too, through which Rob could call 
up the different members of the family just 
when they did not wish to be disturbed. 

His mother and sisters soon came to vote 
the boy's scientific craze a nuisance; but 
his father was delighted with these evi- 
dences of Rob's skill as an electrician, and 
insisted that he be allowed perfect freedom 
in carrying out his ideas. 

'' Electricity," said the old gentleman, 



ROB'S WORKSHOP 



sagely, *' is destined to become tlie motive 
power of the world. The future advance 
of civilization will be along electrical lines. 
Our boy may become a great inventor and 
astonish the world with his wonderful cre- 
ations." 

'^And in the meantime," said the mother, 

despairingly, '' we shall all be electrocuted, 
or the house burned down by crossed wires, 
or we shall be blown into eternity by an 
explosion of chemicals!" 

^' Nonsense 1" ejaculated the proud 
father. '^ Rob's storage batteries are not 
powerful enough to electrocute one or set 
the house on fire. Do give the boy a 
chance, Belinda." 

^^And his pranks are so humiliating," 
continued the lady. '^ When the minister 
called yesterday and rang the bell a big 
card appeared on the front door on which 
was printed the words : 'Busy; Call Again.' 
Fortunately Helen saw him and let him in, 
but when I reproved Robert for the act he 



THE MASTER KEl 



said he was just trying the sign to see if it 
would work." 

'^Exactly! The boy is an inventor al- 
ready. I shall have one of those cards at- 
tached to the door of my private office at 
once. I tell you, Belinda, our son will be 
a great man one of these days," said Mr. 
Joslyn, walking up and down with pom- 
pous strides and almost bursting with the 
pride he took in his young hopeful. 

Mrs. Joslyn sighed. She knew remon- 
strance was useless so long as her husband 
encouraged the boy, and that she would be 
wise to bear her cross with fortitude. 

Rob also knew his mother's protests 
would be of no avail; so he continued to 
revel in electrical processes of all sorts, using 
the house as an experimental station to test 
the powers of his productions. 

It was in his own room, however, — his 
'' workshop " — that he especially delighted. 
For not only was it the center of all his 
numerous 'Mines" throughout the house, 



ROB'S WORKS nop 



but he had rigged up therein a wonderful 
array of devices for his own amusement. 
A trolley-car moved around a circular track 
and stopped regularly at all stations; an en- 
gine and train of cars moved jerkily up and 
down a steep grade and through a tunnel; 
a windmill was busily pumping water from 
the dishpan into the copper skillet; a saw- 
mill was in full operation and a host of me- 
chanical blacksmiths, scissors-grinders, car- 
penters, wood-choppers and millers were 
connected with a motor which kept them 
w^orking away at their trades in awkward 
but persevering fashion. 

The room was crossed and recrossed with 
wires. They crept up the walls, lined the 
floor, made a grille of the ceiling and would 
catch an unwary visitor under the chin or 
above the ankle just when he least expected 
it. Yet visitors were forbidden in so crowded 
a room, and even his father declined to go 
farther than the doorway. As for Rob, he 
thought he knew all about the wires, and 

5 



THE MA S TER KE 7 



what each one was fur; but they puzzled 
even him, at times, and he was often per- 
plexed to know how to utiHze them all. 

One day when he had locked himself in 
to avoid interruption while he planned the 
electrical illumination of a gorgeous paste- 
board palace, he really became confused 
over the network of wires. lie had a ^ 'switch- 
board," to be sure, where he could make 
and break connections as he chose; but the 
wires had somehow become mixed, and he 
could not tell what combinations to use to 
throw the power on to his miniature electric 
lights. 

So he experimented in a rather haphaz- 
ard fashion, connecting this and that wire 
blindly and by guesswork, in the hope that 
he would strike the right combination. 
Then he thought the combination might be 
right and there was a lack of power; so he 
added other lines of wire to his connections, 
and still others, until he had employed 
almost every wire in the room. 

6 



A quick fljhh of light ;i 



I? OB'S WORKSHOP 



Yet it would not work; and after pausing 
a moment to try to think what was wrong 
he went at it again, putting this and that 
line into connection, adding another here 
and another there, until suddenly, as he 
made a last change, a quick flash of light 
almost blinded him, and the switch-board 
crackled ominously, as if struggling to carry 
a powerful current. 

Rob covered his face at the flash, but 
finding himself unhurt he took away his 
hands and with blinking eyes attempted to 
look at a wonderful radiance which seemed 
to fill the room, making it many times 
brighter than the brightest day. 

Although at first completely dazzled, he 
peered before him until he discovered that 
the light was concentrated near one spot, 
from which all the glorious rays seemed to 
scintillate. 

He closed his eyes a moment to rest them; 
then re-opening them and shading them 
somewhat with his hands, he made out the 



THE MASTER KEl 



form of a curious Being standing with maj- 
esty and composure in the center of the 
magnificent radiance and looking down 
upon himl 




CHAPTER TWO 

THE DEMON OF ELECTRICITY 

ROB was a courageous boy, but a thrill 
of fear passed over him in spite of his 
bravest endeavor as he gazed upon the 
wondrous apparition that confronted him. 
For several moments he sat as if turned to 
stone, so motionless was he; but his eyes 
were nevertheless fastened upon the Being 
and devouring every detail of his appear- 
ance. 

And how strange an appearance he pre- 
sented I 

His jacket was a wavering mass of white 
light, edged with braid of red flames that 
9 



TIIH MASTER KEY 

shot little toiiirucs in all directions. The 
buttons bL'izctl in golden tire. His trousers 
had a bluish, incandescent color, with 
glowing stripes of crimson braid. His vest 
was gorgeous with all the colors of the rain- 
bow blended into a flashing, resplendent 
mass. In feature he was most majestic, and 
his eyes held the soft but penetrating bril- 
liance of electric lights. 

It was hard to meet the gaze of those 
searching eyes, but Rob did it, and at once 
the splendid apparition bowed and said in 
a low, clear voice: 

'' I am here." 

'' I know that," answered the boy, trem- 
bling, '' but why are you here ?" 

'' Because you have touched the Master 
Key of Electricity, and I must obey the 
laws of nature that compel me to respond 
to your summons." 

'' I — I didn't know I touched the Master 
Key," faltered the boy. 

'' I understand that. You did it uncon- 

10 



THE DEMON OF ELECTRIC f TV 

scioush/. No one in the world has ever 
done it before, for Nature has hitherto kept 
the secret safe locked within her bosom." 

Rob took time to wonder at this state- 
ment. 

" Then who are you?" he inquired, at 
length. 

" The Demon of Electricity," was the 
solemn answer. 

^'Good gracious!" exclaimed Rob, *'a 
demon I" 

" Certainly. I am, in truth, the Slave 
of the Master Key, and am forced to obey 
the commands of any one who is wise and 
brave enough — or, as in your own case, 
fortunate and fool-hardy enough — to touch 
it." 

" I — I've never guessed there was such 
a thing as a Master Key, or — or a Demon 
of Electricity, and — and I'm awfully sorry 
I — I called you up !" stammered the boy, 
abashed by the imposing appearance of his 
companion. 

II 



THE MASTER KEY 

The Demon actually smiled at this speech, 
— a smile that was almost reassuring. 

'^ I am not sorry," he said, in kindlier 
tone, ^^ for it is not much pleasure waiting 
century after century for some one to com- 
mand my services. I have often thought 
my existence uncalled for, since you Earth 
people are so stupid and ignorant that you 
seem unlikely ever to master the secret of 
electrical power." 

^^ Oh, we have some great masters among 
usi" cried Rob, rather nettled at this state- 
ment. *^Now, there's Edison — " 

^'Edison!" exclaimed the Demon, with a 
faint sneer; *^ what does he know?" 

'^Lots of things," declared the boy. 
''He's invented no end of wonderful 
electrical things . ' ' 

''You are wrong to call them wonder- 
ful," replied the Demon, lightly. "He 
really knows little more than yourself about 
the laws that control electricity. His inven- 
tions are trifling things in comparison with 

12 



THE DEMON OF ELECTRIC IIT 

the really wonderful results to be obtained 
by one who would actually know how to 
direct the electric powers instead of groping 
blindly after insignificant effects. Why, 
I've stood for months by Edison's elbow, 
hoping and longing for him to touch the 
Master Key; but I can see plainly he will 
never accomplish it." 

^^Then there's Tesla," said the boy. 

The Demon laughed. 

^' There is Tesla, to be sure," he said. 
^^But what of him?" 

"Why, he's discovered a powerful light," 
the Demon gave an amused chuckle, " and 
he's in communication with the people in 
Mars." 

"What people?" 

"Why, the people who live there." 

"There are none." 

This quiet statement almost took Rob's 
breath away, and caused him to stare hard 
at his visitor. 

" It's generally thought," he resumed, in 

13 



THE MA S TER KE T 

an annoyed tone, ^'that Mars has inhabi- 
tants who are far in advance of ourselves in 
civilization. Many scientific men think the 
people of Mars have been trying to signal 
us for years, only we don't understand their 
signals. And great novelists have written 
about the Martians and their wonderful civ- 
ilization, and — " 

'^ And they all know as much about that 
little planet as you do yourself," interrupted 
the Demon, impatiently. '^The trouble 
with you Earth people is that you delight 
in guessing about what you can not know. 
Now I happen to know all about Mars, be- 
cause I can traverse all space and have had 
ample leisure to investigate the different 
planets. Mars is not peopled at all, nor is 
any other of the planets you recognize in 
the heavens. Some contain low orders of 
beasts, to be sure, but Earth alone has an 
intelligent, thinking, reasoning population, 
and your scientists and novelists would do 
better trying to comprehend their own planet 

14 



THE DEMON OF ELECTRICITl 



than in groping through space to unravel 
the mysteries of barren and unimportant 
worlds." 

Rob listened to this with surprise and dis- 
appointment; but he reflected that the 
Demon ought to know what he was talking 
about, so he did not venture to contradict 
him. 

*'It is really astonishing," continued the 
Apparition, *^how little you people have 
learned about electricity. It is an Earth 
element that has existed since the Earth 
itself was formed, and if you but under- 
stood its proper use humanity would be 
marvelously benefited in many ways." 

^' We are, already," protested Rob; '' our 
discoveries in electricity have enabled us to 
live much more conveniently." 

^^ Then imagine your condition were you 
able fully to control this great element," re- 
plied the other, gravely. '' The weaknesses 
and privations of mankind would be con- 
verted into power and luxury," 

IS 



THE MASTER KET 



ii 



That's true, Mr. — Mr. — Demon," said 
the boy. ^' Excuse me if I don't get your 
name right, but I understood you to say 
you ftre a demon." 

'' Certainly. The Demon of Electricity." 

'' But electricity is a good thing, you 
know, and — and — " 

^^ Well ?" 

^' I've always understood that demons 
were bad things," added Rob, boldly. 

*^ Not necessarily," returned his visitor. 
'^ If you will take the trouble to consult 
your dictionary, you will find that demons 
may be either good or bad, like any other 
class of beings. Originally all demons 
were good, yet of late years people have 
come to consider all demons evil. I do not 
know why. Should you read Hesiod you 
will find he says: 



* Soon was a world of holy demons made, 
Aerial spirits, by great Jove designed 
To be on earth the guardians of mankind.' 



i> 



i6 



THE DEMON OF ELECTRICITY 



" But Jove was himself a myth," objected 
Rob, who had been studying mythologj'. 

The Demon shrugged his shoulders. 

"Then take the words of Mr. Shake- 
speare, to whom you all defer," he replied. 
"Do you not remember that he says: 

'Thy demon (that's thy spirit which keeps thee) is 
Noble, courageous, high, unmatchable.' " 

" Oh, if Shakespeare says it, that's all 
right," answered the boy. "But it seems 
you're more like a genius, for you answer 
the summons of the Master Key of Elec- 
tricity in the same way Aladdin's genius 
answered the rubbing of the lamp." 

" To be sure. A demon is also a genius; 
and a genius is a demon," said the Being. 
" What matters a name? I am here to do 
your bidding." 




CHAPTER THREE 



THE THREE GIFTS 



FAMILIARITY with any great thing 
removes our awe of it. The great gen- 
eral is only terrible to the enemy; the great 
poet is frequently scolded by his wife; the 
children of the great statesman clamber 
about his knees with perfect trust and im- 
punity; the great actor who is called. before 
the curtain by admiring audiences is often 
waylaid at the stage door by his creditors. 

So Rob, having conversed for a time with 
the glorious Demon of Electricity, began to 
regard him with more composure and less 
awe, as his eyes grew more and more ac^ 

i8 



THE THREE GIETS 



customed to the splendor that at first had 
well-nigh blinded them. 

When the Demon announced himself 
ready to do the boy's bidding, he frankly 
replied: 

'^ I am no skilled electrician, as you 
very well know. My calling you here was 
an accident. So I don't know how to com- 
mand you, nor what to ask you to do." 

'' But I must not take advantage of your 
ignorance," answered the Demon. ''Also, 
I am quite anxious to utilize this opportu- 
nity to show the world what a powerful ele- 
ment electricity really is. So permit me 
to inform you that, having struck the Mas- 
ter Key, you are at liberty to demand from 
me three gifts each week for three succes- 
sive weeks. These gifts, provided they are 
within the scope of electricity, I will grant." 

Rob shook his head regretfully. 

'' If I were a great electrician I should 
know what to ask," he said. "But I am too 



19 



THE MASTER KET 

m 

ignorant to take advantage of your kind 
offer." 

'' Then," replied the Demon, " I will 
myself suggest the gifts, and they will be of 
such a character that the Earth people will 
learn the possibilities that lie before them 
and be encouraged to work more intelli- 
gently and to persevere in mastering those 
natural and simple laws which control elec- 
tricity. For one of the greatest errors they 
now labor under is that electricity is com- 
plicated and hard to understand. It is 
really the simplest Earth element, lying 
within easy reach of any one who stretches 
out his hand to grasp and control its pow- 
ers." 

Rob yawned, for he thought the De- 
mon's speeches were growing rather tire- 
some. Perhaps the genius noticed this 
rudeness, for he continued: 

" I regret, of course, that you are a boy 
instead of a grown man, for it will appear 
singular to your friends that so thoughtless a 

20 



THE THREE GIETS 



youth should seemingly have mastered the 
secrets that have baffled your most learned 
scientists. But that can not be helped, and 
presently you will become, through my aid, 
the most powerful and wonderful personage 
in all the world." 

''Thank you," said Rob, meekly. ''It'll 
be no end of fun." 

"Fun!" echoed the Demon, scornfully. 
"But never mind; I must use the material 
Fate has provided for me, and make the 
best of it." 

"What will you give me first?" asked the 
boy, eagerly. 

"That requires some thought," returned 
the Demon, and paused for several mo- 
ments, while Rob feasted his eyes upon the 
gorgeous rays of color that flashed and vi- 
brated in every direction and surrounded 
the figure of his visitor with an intense glow 
that resembled a halo. 

Then the Demon raised his head and 
said: 

21 



THE MASTER KEl 



"The thing nioGt necessan' to man is food 
to nourish his body. lie passes a consider- 
able part of his life in the struggle to pro- 
cure food, to prepare it properly, and in 
the act of eating. Thfs is not right. Your 
body can not be very valuable to you if all 
your time is required to feed it. I shall, 
therefore, present 3^ou, as my first gift, this 
box of tablets. Within each tablet are stored 
certain elements of electricity which are 
capable of nourishing a human body for a 
full day. All you need do is to toss one into 
your mouth each day and swallow it. It 
will nourish you, satisfy your hunger and 
build up your health and strength. The 
ordinary food of mankind is more or less 
injurious; this is entirely beneficial. More- 
over, you may carry enough tablets in your 
pocket to last for months." 

Here he presented Rob the silver box of 
tablets, and the boy, somewhat nervously, 
thanked him for the gift. 

The next requirement of man," contin- 

22 



ii' 



THE THREE GIFTS 



ued the Demon, ^^is defense from his ene- 
mies. I notice with sorrow that men fre- 
quently have wars and kill one another. 
Also, even in civilized communities, man 
is in constant danger from highwaymen, 
cranks and policemen. To defend him- 
self he uses heavy and dangerous guns, 
with which to destroy his enemies. This 
is wrong. lie has no right to take away 
what he can not bestow; to destroy what 
he can not create. To kill a fellow-creat- 
ure is a horrid crime, even if done In self- 
defense. Therefore, my second gift to you 
is this little tube. You may carry it within 
your pocket. Whenever an enemy threat- 
ens you, be it man or beast, simply point 
the tube and press this button in the handle. 
An electric current will instantly be directed 
upon your foe, rendering him wholly un- 
conscious for the period of one hour. Dur- 
ing that time you will have opportunity to 
escape. As for your enemy, after regain- 
ing consciousness he will suffer no incon- 

23 



THE MASTER KEY 



venience from the encounter beyond a slight 
headache." 

* 'That's fine!" said Rob, as he took the 
tube. It was scarcely six inches long, and 
hollow at one end. 

''The busy lives of men," proceeded the 
Demon, "require them to move about and 
travel in all directions. Yet to assist them 
there are only such crude and awkward ma- 
chines as electric trolleys, cable cars, steam 
railways and automobiles. These crawl 
slowly over the uneven surface of the earth 
and frequently get out of order. It has grieved 
me that men have not yet discovered what 
even the birds know: that the atmosphere 
offers them swift and easy means of travel- 
ing from one part of the earth's surface to 
another." 

"Some people have tried to build air- 
ships," remarked Rob. 

"So they have; great, unwieldy machines 
which offer so much resistance to the air 
that they are quite useless. A big machine 

24 



THE THREE GIFTS 



is not needed to carry one through the air. 
There are forces in nature which may be 
readily used for such purpose. Tell me, 
what holds you to the Earth, and makes a 
stone fall to the ground?" 

^^ Attraction of gravitation," said Rob, 
promptly. 

''Exactly. That is one force I refer to," 
said the Demon. ''The force of repulsion, 
which is little known, but just as powerful, 
is another that mankind may direct. Then 
there are the Polar electric forces, attracting 
objects toward the north or south poles. 
You have guessed something of this by the 
use of the compass, or electric needle. Op- 
posed to these is centrifugal electric force, 
drawing objects from east to west, or in the 
opposite direction. This force is created by 
the whirl of the earth upon its axis, and is 
easily utilized, although your scientific men 
have as yet paid little attention to it. 

*^ These forces, operating in all directions, 
absolute and immutable, are at the disposal 

25 



rilE MASTER KEl 



of mankind. They will earn- aou throuerh 



*/ 



the atmosphere wherever and whenever you 
choose. That is, if you know how to con- 
trol them. Now, here is a machine I have 
myself perfected." 

The Demon drew from his pocket some- 
thing that resembled an open-faced watch, 
having a narrow, flexible band attached to it. 

^'When you wish to travel," said he, 
^^ attach this little machine to your left wrist 
by means of the band. It is very light and 
will not be in your way. On this dial are 
points marked ' up ' and ' down ' as well 
as a perfect compass. When you desire to 
rise into the air set the indicator to the word 
^up,' using a finger of your right hand to 
turn it. When you have risen as high as 
you wish, set the indicator to the point of 
the compass you want to follow and you 
will be carried by the proper electric force 
in that direction. To descend, set the in- 
dicator to the word 'down.' Do you un- 
derstand ? ' ' 

26 



THE THREE GIFTS 



'^ Perfectly! " cried Rob, taking the ma- 
chine from the Demon with unfeigned de- 
light. '' This is really wonderful, and Pm 
awfully obliged to you!" 

^'Don't mention it," returned the Demon, 
dryly. ^' These three gifts you may amuse 
yourself with for the next week. It seems 
hard to entrust such great scientific discover- 
ies to the discretion of a mere boy; but they 
are quite harmless, so if you exercise proper 
care you can not get into trouble through 
their possession. And who knows what 
benefits to humanity may result? One 
week from to-day, at this hour, I will again 
appear to you, at which time you shall re- 
ceive the second series of electrical gifts." 

^^Pm not sure," said Rob, '^that I shall 
be able again to make the connections that 
will strike the Master Key." 

^^ Probably not," answered the Demon. 
^^ Could 3^ou accomplish that, you might 
command my sei*vices forever. But, hav- 
ing once succeeded, you are entitled to the 

2^ 



THE MASTER KEY 



nine gifts — three each week for three weeks 
— so you have no need to call me to do my 
dutj'. I shall appear of my own accord." 
"Thank you," murmured the boy. 
The Demon bowed and spread his hands 
in the form of a semi-circle. An instant 
later there was a blinding flash, and when 
Rob recovered from it and opened his e}-es 
the Demon of Electricity had disappeared. 





^^rTTT^ 




CHAPTER FOUR 



TESTING THE INSTRUMENTS 



THERE is little doubt that had this 
strange experience befallen a grown 
man he would have been stricken with a fit 
of trembling or a sense of apprehension, or 
even fear, at the thought of having faced 
the terrible Demon of Electricity, of having 
struck the Master Key of the world's great- 
est natural forces, and finding himself pos- 
sessed of three such wonderful and useful 
gifts. But a boy takes everything as a 
matter of course. As the tree of knowl- 
edge sprouts and expands within him, shoot- 
ing out leaf after leaf of practical experience, 

29 



THE MASTER KEY 



the succession of surprises dulls his faculty 
of wonderment. It takes a great deal to 
startle a boy. 

Rob was full of delight at his unexpected 
good fortune; but he did not stop to con- 
sider that there was anything remarkably 
queer or uncanny in the manner in which it 
had come to him. His chief sensation was 
one of pride. He would now be able to 
surprise those who had made fun of his elec- 
trical craze and force them to respect his 
marvelous powers. He decided to say noth- 
ing about the Demon or the accidental strik- 
ing of the Master Key. In exhibiting to his 
friends the electrical devices he had acquired 
it would be '^no end of fun" to mark their 
amazement and leave them to guess how he 
performed his feats. 

So he put his treasures into his pocket, 
locked his workshop and went downstairs 
to his room to prepare for dinner. 

While brushing his hair he remembered 
it was no longer necessary for him to eat 

30 



TESTING THE LYSTRUMEXTS 



ordinary food. He was feeling quite hun- 
gry at that moment, for he had a boy's rav- 
enous appetite; but, taking the silver box 
from his pocket, he swallowed a tablet and 
at once felt his hunger as fully satisfied as if 
he had partaken of a hearty meal, while at 
the same time he experienced an exhilarat- 
ing glow throughout his body and a clear- 
ness of brain and gaiety of spirits which filled 
him with intense gratification. 

Still, he entered the dining-room when 
the bell rang and found his father and 
mother and sisters already assembled there. 

^' Where have you been all day, Robert?" 
inquired his mother. 

^^No need to ask," said Mr. Joslyn,with 
a laugh. ^^ Fussing over electricity, I'll bet 
a cookie!" 

^^I do wish," said the mother, fretfully, 
^^that he would get over that mania. It un- 
fits him for anything else." 

^^ Precisely," returned her husband, dish- 
ing the soup; '^but it fits him for a great 

31 



THE MASTER KET 

career when he becomes a man. Why 
shouldn't he spend his summer vacation in 
pursuit of useful knowledge instead of romp- 
ing around like ordinary boys?" 

'^ No soup, thank you," said Rob. 

^^ What I" exclaimed his father, looking 
at him in surprise, '^ it's your favorite 
soup." 

'^ I know," said Rol5, quietly, ^^but I 
don't want any." 

'^Are you ill, Robert?" asked his mother. 

^' Never felt better in my life," answered 
Rob, truthfully. 

Yet Mrs. Joslyn looked worried, and 
when Rob refused the roast, she was really 
shocked. 

'' Let me feel your pulse, my poor boy!" 
she commanded, and wondered to find it so 
regular. 

In fact, Rob's action surprised them all. 
He sat calmly throughout the meal, eat- 
ing nothing, but apparently in good health 



32 



TESTING THE INSTRUMENTS 



and spirits^ while even his sisters regarded 
him with troubled countenances. 

^' He's worked too hard, I guess," said 
Mr. Joslyn, shaking -his head sadly. 

^^Oh, no; I haven't," protested Rob; 
^^ but I've decided not to eat anything, 
hereafter. It's a bad habit, and does more 
harm than good." 

'^ Wait till breakfast," said sister Helen, 
with a laugh; ''you'll be hungry enough 
by that time." 

However, the boy had no desire for food 
at breakfast time, either, as the tablet suf- 
ficed for an entire day. So he renewed 
the anxiety of the family by refusing to join 
them at the table. 

'' If this goes on," Mr. Joslyn said to 
his son, when breakfast was finished, '' I 
shall be obliged to send you away for your 
health." 

'' I think of making a trip this morning," 
said Rob, carelessly. 

^' Where to?" 

33 



THE MASTER KEY , 

'' Oh, I may go to Boston, or take a run - 

over to Cuba or Jamaica," replied the boy. 

'' But you can not go so far by yourself," 
declared his father; ^'and there is no one 
to go with you, just now. Nor can I spare 
the money at present for so expensive a 
trip." 

'' Oh, it won't cost anything," replied 
Rob, with a smile. 

Mr. Joslyn looked upon him gravely and 
sighed. Mrs. Joslyn bent over her son 
with tears in her eyes and said: 

^^ This electrical nonsense has affected 
your mind, dear. You must promise me to 
keep away from that horrid workshop for a 
time." 

'' I won't enter it for a week," he an- 
swered. '^ But you needn't worry about 
me. I haven't been experimenting with 
electricity all this time for nothing, I can 
tell you. As for my health, I'm as well 
and strong as anj^ boy need be, and there's 
nothing wrong with my head, either. Com- 

34 



TESTrNG THE INSTRVMEXTS 



mon folks always think great men are crazy, 
but Edison and Tesla and I don'^t pay any 
attention to that. We've got our discover- 
ies to look after. Now, as I said, I'm go- 
ing for a little trip in the interests of sci- 
ence. I may be back to-night, or I maybe 
gone several days. Anyhow, I'll be back 
in a week, and you mustn't worry about 
me a single minute." 

'^ How are you going?" inquired his 
father, in the gentle, soothing tone persons 
use in addressing maniacs. 

'' Through the air," said Rob. 

His father groaned. 

^^ Where's your balloon?" inquired sis- 
ter Mabel, sarcastically. 

^' I don't need a balloon," returned the 
boy. '^ That's a clumsy way of traveling, at 
best. I shall go by electric propulsion." 

'' Good gracious!" cried Mr. Joslyn, and 
the mother murmured: ^' My poor boy! my 
poor boy!" 

''As you are my nearest relatives," con- 

35 



THE MASTER KEY 



tinued Rob, not noticing these exclamations, 
'^ I will allow )'ou to come into the back 
yard and see me start. You will then under- 
stand something of my electrical powers." 

They followed him at once, although with 
unbelieving faces, and on the way Rob 
clasped the little machine to his left wrist, 
so that his coat sleeve nearly hid it. 

When they reached the lawn at the back 
of the house Rob kissed them all good-by, 
much to his sisters' amusement, and turned 
the indicator of the little instrument to the 
word ''up, 

Immediately he began to rise into the 
air. 

''Don't worry about me I" he called 

down to them. " Good-by!" 

Mrs. Joslyn, with a scream of terror, hid 
her face in her hands. 

" He'll break his neck !" cried the as- 
tounded father, tipping back his head to 
look after his departing son. 



36 



?? 



TESTING THE IXSTRUMEXTS 



''Come back! Come back!" shouted 
the girls to the soaring adventurer. 

'' I will — some day !" was the far-away 
answer. 

Having risen high enough to pass over 
the tallest tree or steeple, Rob put the indi- 
cator to the east of the compass-dial and at 
once began moving rapidly in that direction. 

The sensation was delightful. He rode 
as gently as a feather floats, without any 
exertion at all on his own part; jet he 
moved so swiftly that he easily distanced a 
railway train that was speeding in the same 
direction. 

''This is great!" reflected the youth. 
" Here I am, traveling in fine stj^le, with- 
out a penny to pay any one! And I've 
enough food to last me a month in my coat 
pocket. This electricity is the proper stuff, 
after all! And the Demon's a trump, and 
no mistake. Whee-ee! How small every- 
thing looks down below there. The people 
are bugs, and the houses are soap-boxes, 

37 



THE MASTER KET 



and the trees are like clumps of grass. I 
seem to be passing over a town. Guess 
I'll drop down a bit, and take in the sights." 
lie pointed the indicator to the word 
^^down," and at once began dropping 

through the air. He experienced the sensa- 
tion one feels while descending in an eleva- 
tor. When he reached a point just above 
the town he put the indicator to the zero 
mark and remained stationary, while he 
examined the place. But there was nothing 
to interest him, particularly; so after a brief 
survey he once more ascended and contin- 
ued his journey toward the east. 

At about two o'clock in the aifternoon he 
reached the city of Boston, and alighting 
unobserved in a quiet street he walked 
around for several hours enjoying the sights 
and wondering what people would think of 
him if they but knew his remarkable pow- 
ers. But as he looked just like any other 
boy no one noticed him in any way. 

It was nearly evening, and Rob had wan- 

38 



TESTING THE IXSTRUMEXTS 



dered down by the wharves to look at the 
shipping, when his attention was called to 
an ugly looking bull dog, which ran toward 
Iiim and began barking ferociously. 

''Get out!" said the boy, carelessly, and 
made a kick at the brute. 

The dog uttered a fierce growl and sprang 
upon him with bared teeth and flashing red 
eyes. Instantly Rob drew the electric tube 
from his pocket, pointed it at the dog and 
pressed the button. Almost at the same mo- 
ment the dog gave a yelp, rolled over once 
or twice and lay still. 

''I guess that'll settle him," laughed the 
boy; but just then he heard an angry shout, 
and looking around saw a policeman run- 
ning toward him. 

''Kill me dog, will ye — eh?" yelled the 
officer; "well, I'll just run ye in for that 
same, an' ye'll spend the night in the lock- 
upl" And on he came, with drawn club in 
one hand and a big revolver in the other. 

"You'll have to catch me first," said 

39 



THE MASTER KEY 



Rob, still laughing, and to the amazement 
of the policeman he began rising straight 
into the air. 

^'Come down here I Come down, or I'll 
shoot!" shouted the fellow, flourishing his 
revolver. 

Rob was afraid he would; so, to avoid ac- 
cidents, he pointed the tube at him and 
pressed the button. The red-whiskered po- 
liceman keeled over quite gracefully and fell 
across the body of the dog, while Rob con- 
tinued to mount upward until he was out of 
sight of those in the streets. 

''That was a narrow escape," he thought, 
breathing more freely. ''I hated to para- 
lyze that policeman, but he might have sent 
a bullet after me. Anyhow, he'll be all 
right again in an hour, so I needn't worry." 

It was beginning to grow dark, and he 
wondered what he should do next. Had he 
possessed any money he would have de- 
scended to the town and taken a bed at a 
hotel, but he had left home without a single 

40 



TESTING THE IXSTRIWEXTS 



penny. Fortunately the nights were warm 
at this season, so he determined to travel all 
night, that he might reach by morning some 
place he had never before visited. 

Cuba had always interested him, and he 
judged it ought to lie in a southeasterly 
direction from Boston. So he set the in- 
dicator to that point and began gliding 
swiftly toward the southeast. 

He now remembered that it was twentv- 
four hours since he had eaten the first elec- 
trical tablet. As he rodft through the air 
he consumed another. All hunger at once 
left him, while he felt the same invigorating 
sensations as before. 

After a time the moon came out, and 
Rob amused himself gazing at the countless 
stars in the sky and wondering if the Demon 
was right when he said the world was the 
most important of all the planets. 

But presently he grew sleepy, and before 
he realized what was happening he had 
fallen into a sound and peaceful slumber, 

41 



THE MA S TER KE T 



while the indicator still pointed to the south- 
east and he continued to move rapidly 
through the cool night air. 












^^^^^^i 


7fe j 




Bi 


^';| 




jM^jaM*^-:^ 





CHAPTER FIVE 

THE CANNIBAL ISLAND 

DOUBTLESS the adventures of the 
day had tired Rob, for he slept 
throughout the night as comfortably as if he 
had been within his own room, lying upon 
his own bed. When, at last, he opened his 
eyes and gazed sleepily about him, he found 
himself over a great body of water, mov- 
ing along with considerable speed. 
, ^^It's the ocean, of course," he said to 
hlnrself. **I haven't reached Cuba yet.'' 
I: is to be regretted that Rob's knowledge 
of geography was so superficial; for, as he 
had intended to reach Cuba, he should have 

43 



THE MASTER KET 



taken a course almost southwest from Bos- 
ton, instead of southeast. The sad result 
of his Ignorance you will presently learn, 
for during the entire day he continued to 
travel over a boundless waste of ocean, 
without the sight of even an island to cheer 
him. 

The sun shone so hot that he regretted 
he had not brought an umbrella. But he 
wore a wide-brimmed straw hat, which 
protected him somewhat, and he finally dis- 
covered that by rising to a considerable dis- 
tance above the ocean he avoided the reflec- 
tion of the sun upon the water and also 
came within the current of good breeze. 

Of course he dared not stop, for there 
was no place to land; so he calmly con- 
tinued his journey. 

^^It may be Pve missed Cuba,'' he 
thought; ^^but I can not change my course 
now, for if I did I might get lost, and never 
be able to find land again. If I keep on as 
I am I shall be sure to reach land of same 

44 



THE CANNIBAL ISLAND 

sort, in time, and when I wish to return 
home I can set the indicator to the north- 
west and that will take me directly back to 
Boston." 

This was good reasoning, but the rash 
youth had no idea he was speeding over the 
ocean, or that he was destined to arrive 
shortly at the barbarous island of Brava, off 
the coast of Africa. Yet such was the case; 
just as the sun sank over the edge of the 
waves he saw, to his great relief, a large 
island directly in his path. 

He dropped to a lower position in the 
air, and when he judged himself to be over 
the center of the island he turned the indi- 
cator to zero and stopped short. 

The country was beautifully wooded, 
while pretty brooks sparkled through the 
rich green foliage of the trees. The island 
sloped upwards from the sea-coast in all di- 
rections, rising to a hill that was almost a 
mountain in the center. There were two 
open spaces, one on each side of the island, 

45 



THE MA S TER KE 7 



and Rob saw that these spaces were occu- 
pied by queer-looking huts built from brush- 
wood and branches of trees. This showed 
that the island was inhabited, but as Rob 
had no idea what island it was he wisely de- 
termined not to meet the natives until he 
had discovered what they were like and 
whether they were disposed to be friendly. 

So he moved over the hill, the top of 
which proved to be a flat, grass-covered 
plateau about fifty feet in diameter. Find- 
ing it could not be easily reached from 
below, on account of its steep sides, and 
contained neither men nor animals, he 
alighted on the hill-top and touched his 
feet to the earth for the first time in twenty- 
four hours. 

The ride through the air had not tired 
him in the least; in fact, he felt as fresh and 
vigorous as if he had been resting through- 
out the journey. As he walked upon the 
soft grass of the plateau he felt elated, 
and compared himself to the explorers of 

46 



THE CA NNIBA L ISLA ND 



ancient days; for it was evident that civili- 
zation had not yet reached this delightful 
spot. 

There was scarcely any twilight in this 
tropical climate and it grew dark quickly. 
Within a few minutes the entire island, 
save where he stood, became dim and in- 
distinct. He ate his daily tablet, and after 
watching the red glow fade in the western 
sky and the gray shadows of night settle 
around him he stretched himself comfortably 
upon the grass and went to sleep. 

The events of the day must have deep- 
ened his slumber, for when he awoke the 
sun was shining almost directly over him, 
showing that the day was well advanced. 
He stood up, rubbed the sleep from his eyes 
and decided he would like a drink of water. 
From where he stood he could see several 
little brooks following winding paths through 
the forest, so he settled upon one that 
seemed farthest from the brushwood vil- 
lages, and turning his indicator in that direc- 

47 



THE MASTER K ET 

tion soon floated through the air to a shel- 
tered spot upon the bank. 

Kneeling down, he enjoyed a long, re- 
freshing drink of the clear water, but as he 
started to regain his feet a coil of rope was 
suddenly thrown about him, pinning his 
arms to his sides and rendering him abso- 
lutely helpless. 

At the same time his ears were saluted 
with a wild chattering in an unknown 
tongue, and he found himself surrounded by 
a group of natives of hideous appearance. 
They were nearly naked, and bore spears 
and heavy clubs as their only weapons. 
Their hair was long, curly, and thick as 
bushes, and through their noses and ears 
were stuck the teeth of sharks and curious 
metal ornaments. 

These creatures had stolen upon Rob so 
quietly that he had not heard a sound, but 
now they jabbered loudly, as if much ex- 
cited. 

Finally one fat and somewhat aged na- 

48 



THE CANNIBAL ISLAND 

live, who seemed to be a chief, came close 
to Rob and said, in broken English: 
^^How get here?'' 
"I flew," said the boy, with a grin. 
The chief shook his head, saying: 
^'No boat come. How white man come?" 
^ ^Through the air," replied Rob, who 
was rather flattered at being called a 



^^man." 



The chief looked into the air with a puz- 
zled expression and shook his head again. 

^^ White man lie," he said calmly. 

Then he held further conversation with 
his fellows, after which he turned to Rob 
and announced: 

^^Me see white man many times. Come 
in big boats. White men all bad. Make 
kill with bang-sticks. We kill white man 
with club. Then we eat white man. Dead 
white man good. Live white man bad!' 

This did not please Rob at all. The idea 
of being eaten by savages had never occur- 



49 



THE MASTER KEY 



red to him as a sequel to his adventures. So 
he said rather anxiously to the chief: 

^^Look here, old fellow; do you want to 
die?" 

^^Me no die. You die," was the reply. 

^'You'll die, too, if you eat me," said 
Rob. ^4'm full of poison." 

''Poison? Don't know poison," re- 
turned the chief, much perplexed to under- 
stand him. 

''Well, poison will make you sick — awful 
sick. Then you'll die. I'm full of it; eat it 
every day for breakfast. It don't hurt white 
men, you see, but it kills black men quicker 
than the bang-stick." 

The chief listened to this statement care- 
fully, but only understood it in part. After 
a moment's reflection he declared: 

" White man lie. Lie all time. Me 
eat plenty white man. Never get sick; 
never die." Then he added, with renewed 
cheerfulness: "Me eat you, too !" 

Before Rob could think of a further pro- 

50 



THE CANNIBAL ISLAND 



test, his captors caught up the end of the 
rope and led him away through the forest. 
lie was tightly bound, and one strand of 
rope ran across the machine on his wrist 
and pressed it into his flesh until the pain 
was severe. But he resolved to be brave, 
whatever happened, so he stumbled along 
after the savages without a word. 

After a brief journey they came to a vil- 
lage, where Rob was thrust into a brush- 
wood hut and thrown upon the ground, 
still tightly bound. 

'^ We light fire," said the chief. ^^ Then 
kill little white man. Then eat him." 

With this comforting promise he went 
away and left Rob alone to think the mat- 
ter over. 

^^ This is tough," reflected the boy, with 
a groan. '^ I never expected to feed canni- 
bals. Wish I was at home with mother 
and dad and the girls. Wish I'd never 
seen the Demon of Electricity and his won- 
derful inventions. I was happy enough be- 

51 



THE MASTER KEY 

fore I struck that awful Master Key. And 
now I'll be eaten — with salt and pepper, 
probably. Wonder if there'll be any gravy. 
Perhaps they'll boil me, with biscuits, as 
mother does chickens. Oh-h-h-h-h! It's 
just awful !" 

In the midst of these depressing thoughts 
he became aware that something was hurt- 
ing his back. After rolling over he found 
that he had been lying upon a sharp stone 
that stuck out of the earth. This gave him 
an idea. He rolled upon the stone again 
and began rubbing the rope that bound him 
against the sharp edge. 

Outside he could hear the crackling of 
fagots and the roar of a newly-kindled fire, 
so he knew he had no time to spare. He 
wriggled and pushed his body right and left, 
right and left, sawing away at the rope, 
until the strain and exertion started the per- 
spiration from every pore. 

At length the rope parted, and hastily 
uncoiling it from his body Rob stood up 

52 



THE CANNIBAL ISLAND 



and rubbed his benumbed muscles and tried 
to regain his lost breath. He had not freed 
himself a moment too soon, he found, for 
hearing a grunt of surprise behind him he 
turned around and saw a native standing in 
the door of the hut. 

Rob laughed, for he was not a bit afraid of 
the blacks now. As the native made a rush 
toward him the boy drew the electric tube 
from his pocket, pointed it at the foe, and 
pressed the button. The fellow sank to the 
earth without even a groan, and lay still. 

Then another black entered, followed by 
the fat chief. When they saw Rob at lib- 
erty, and their comrade lying apparently 
dead, the chief cried out in surprise, using 
some expressive words in his own language. 

'^If it's just the same to you, old chap," 
said Rob, coolly, ^'I won't be eaten to-day. 
You can make a pie of that fellow on the 
ground." 

^'No! We eat you," cried the chief, an- 



53 



THE MASTER KEl 



grily. ^'You cut rope, but no get away; no 
boat!" 

''I don't need a boat, thank you," said 
the boy; and then, as the other native sprang 
forward, he pointed the tube and laid him 
out beside his first victim. 

At this act the chief stood an instant in 
amazed uncertainty. Then he turned and 
rushed from the hut. 

Laughing with amusement at the wad- 
dHng, fat figure, Rob followed the chief and 
found himself standing almost in the center 
of the native village. A big fire was blaz- 
ing merrily and the blacks were busy mak- 
ing preparations for a grand feast. 

Rob was quickly surrounded by a crowd 
of the villagers, who chattered fiercely and 
made threatening motions in his direction; 
but as the chief cried out to them a warning 
in the native tongue they kept a respectful 
distance and contented themselves with 
brandishing their spears and clubs. 

^'If any of your fellows come nearer," 

54 



THE CANNIBAL ISLAND 

Rob said to the fat chief, ^'I'll knock 'em 
over," 

"What you make do?" asked the chief, 
nervously. 

"Watch sharp, and you'll see," answered 
Rob. Then he made a mocking bow to the 
circle and continued: "Pm pleased to have 
met you fellows, and proud to think you 
like me well enough to want to eat me; but 
I'm in a bit of a hurry to-day, so I can't 
stop to be digested." After which, as the 
crowd broke into a hum of surprise, he 
added: "Good-day, black folks!" and quick- 
ly turned the indicator of his traveling ma- 
chine to the word "up." 

Slowly he rose into the air, until his heels 
were just above the gaping blacks; but there 
he stopped short. With a thrill of fear he 
glanced at the indicator. It was pointed 
properly, and he knew at once that some- 
thing was wrong with the delicate mechan- 
ism that controlled it. Probably the pres- 
sure of the rope across its face, when he was 

55 



THE MAS7^ER KEl 



bound, had put it out of order. There he 
was, seven feet in the air, but without the 
power to rise an inch farther. 

This short flight, however, had greatly 
astonished the blacks, who, seeing his body 
suspended in mid-air, immediately hailed 
him as a god, and prostrated themselves up- 
on the ground before him. 

The fat chief had seen something of white 
men in his 3'outh, and had learned to mis- 
trust them. So, while he remained as pros- 
trate as the rest, he peeped at Rob with one 
of his little black eyes and saw that the boy 
was ill at ease, and seemed both annoyed 
and frightened. 

So he muttered some orders to the man 
next him, who wriggled along the ground 
until he had reached a position behind Rob, 
when he rose and pricked the suspended 
'* god " with the point of his spear. 

<^ Ouch!" yelled the boy; '' stop that !" 

He twisted his head around, and seeing 
the black again make a movement with the 



56 



THE CANNIBAL ISLAND 

spear, Rob turned his electric tube upon 
him and keeled him over like a ten-pin. 

The natives, who had looked up at his 
cry of pain, again prostrated themselves, 
kicking their toes against the ground in a 
terrified tattoo at this new evidence of the 
god's powers. 

The situation was growing somewhat 
strained by this time, and Rob did not 
know what the savages would decide to do 
next; so he thought it best to move awa)' 
from them, since he was unable to rise to a 
greater height. He turned the indicator 
towards the south, where a level space ap- 
peared between the trees; but instead of 
taking that direction he moved towards the 
northeast, a proof that his machine had 
now become absolutely unreliable. More- 
over, he was slowly approaching the fire, 
which, although it had ceased blazing, was 
a mass of glowing red embers. 

In his excitement he turned the indicator 
this way and that, trying to change the di- 

57 



THE MA S TER KEl 



rection of his flight, but the only result of 
his endeavor was to carry him directly over 
the fire, where he came to a full stop. 

" Murder! Help! Fire and blazes!" 
he cried, as he felt the glow of the coals be- 
neath him. " I'll be roasted, after all! 
Here; help. Fatty, help!" 

The fat chief sprang to his feet and came 
to the rescue. He reached up, caught Rob 
by the heels, and pulled him down to the 
ground, a\yay from the fire. But the next 
moment, as he clung to the boy's feet, they 
both soared into the air again, and, al- 
though now far enough from the fire to es- 
cape its heat, the savage, finding himself 
lifted from the earth, uttered a scream of 
horror and let go of Rob, to fall head over 
heels upon the ground. 

The other blacks had by this time re- 
gained their feet, and now they crowded 
around their chief and set him upright 



agam. 



Rob continued to float in the air, just 

58 



THE CANNIBAL ISLAND 

above their heads, and now abandoned all 
thoughts of escaping by means of his 
wrecked traveling machine. But he re- 
solved to regain a foothold upon the earth 
and take his chances of escape by running 
rather than flying. So he turned the indi- 
cator to the word " down," and very slowly 
it obeyed, allowing him, to his great relief, 
to sink gently to the ground. 



CHAPTER SIXTH 

THE BUCCANEERS 

ONCE more the blacks formed a cir- 
cle around our adventurer, who 
coolly drew his tube and said to the chief: 
"Tell your people I'm going to walk 
away through those trees, and if any one 
dares to interfere with me I'll paralyze 
him." 

The chief understood enough English to 
catch his meaning, and repeated the mes- 
sage to his men. Having seen the terrible 
effect of the electric tube they wisely fell 
back and allowed the boy to pass. 

He marched through their lines with a 
60 



THE BUCCANEERS 



fine air of dignity, although he was fearful 
lest some of the blacks should stick a spear 
into him or bump his head with a war- 
club. But they were awed by the wonders 
they had seen and were still inclined to be- 
lieve him a god, so he was not molested. 

When he found himself outside the vil- 
lage he made for the high plateau in the 
center of the island, where he could be safe 
from the cannibals while he collected his 
thoughts. But when he reached the place 
he found the sides so steep he could not 
climb them, so he adjusted the indicator 
to the word ^^up" and found it had still 
enough power to support his body while he 
clambered up the rocks to the level, grass- 
covered space at the top. 

Then, reclining upon his back, he gave 
himself up to thoughts of how he might 
escape from his unpleasant predicament. 

^'Here I am, on a cannibal island, hun- 
dreds of miles from civilization, with no 
way to get back,'' he reflected. ^'The 

6i 



THE MASTER KEl 



family will look for me every day, and finally 
decide Pve broken my neck. The Demon 
will call upon me when the week is up and 
won't find me at home; so Til miss the 
next three gifts. I don't mind that so much, 
for they might bring me into worse scrapes 
than this. But how am I to get away from 
this beastly island? I'll be eaten, after all, 
if I don't look out!" 

These and similar thoughts occupied him 
for some time, yet in spite of much plan- 
ning and thinking he could find no practical 
means of escape. 

At the end of an hour he looked over the 
edge of the plateau and found it surrounded 
by a ring of the black cannibals, who had 
calmly seated themselves to watch his move- 
ments. 

'^Perhaps they intend to starve me into 
surrender," he thought; *'but they won't 
succeed so long as mj' tablets hold out. 
And if, in time, they should starve me, I'll be 



62 



THE BUCCANEERS 



too thin and tough to make good eating; 
so ril get the best of them, anyhow." 

Then he again lay down and began to 
examine his electrical traveling machine. 
He did not dare take it apart, fearing he 
might not be able to get it together again, 
for he knew nothing at all about its con- 
struction. But he discovered two little dents 
on the edge, one on each side, which had 
evidently been caused by the pressure of 
the rope. 

^' If I could get those dents out," he 
thought, '' the machine might work." 

He first tried to pry out the edges with 
his pocket knife, but the attempt resulted 
in failure. Then, as the sides seemed a 
littie bulged outward by the dents, he 
placed the machine between two flat stones 
and pressed them together until the little 
instrument was nearly round again. The 
dents remained, to be sure, but he hoped 
he had removed the pressure upon the 
works. 

63 



THE MASTER KEY 



There was just one way to discover how 
well he had succeeded, so he fastened the 
machine to his wrist and turned the indi- 
cator to the word ^^up." 

Slowly he ascended, this time to a height 
of nearly twenty feet. Then his progress 
became slower and finally ceased alto- 
gether. 

''That's a little better," he thought. 
'' Now let's see if it will go sidewise." 

He put the indicator to ''north-west," — 
the direction of home — and very slowly the 
machine obeyed and carried him away 
from the plateau and across the island. 

The natives saw him go, and springing 
to their feet began uttering excited shouts 
and throwing their spears at him. But he 
was already so high and so far away that 
they failed to reach him, and the boy con- 
tinued his journey unharmed. 

Once the branches of a tall tree cau«:ht 
him and nearl}^ tipped him over; but he 
managed to escape others by drawing up 

64 



THE BUCCANEERS 

his feet. At last he was free of the island 
and traveling over the ocean again. He 
was not at all sorry to bid good-by to the 
cannibal island, but he was worried about 
the machine, which clearly was not in good 
working order. The vast ocean was be- 
neath him, and he moved no faster than an 
ordinar}' walk. 

''At this rate I'll get home some time 
next year," he grumbled. '' However, I 
suppose I ought to be glad the machine 
works at all." And he really was glad. 

All the afternoon and all the long sum- 
mer night he moved slowly over the water. 
It was annoying to go at '' a reg'lar jog- 
trot," as Rob called it, after his former 
swift flight; but there was no help for it. 

Just as dawn was breaking he saw in the 
distance a small vessel, sailing in the direc- 
tion he was following, yet scarcely moving 
for lack of wind. He soon caught up with 
it, but saw no one on deck, and t'^e craft 
had a dingy and uncared-for ap ) jaranc(i 

65 



THE MASTER KEY 



that was not reassuring. But after hover- 
ing over it for some time Rob decided 
to board the ship and rest for a while. He 
alighted near the bow, where the deck was 
highest, and was about to explore the place 
when a man came out of the low cabin and 
espied him. 

This person had a most villainous coun- 
tenance, and was dark-skinned, black- 
bearded and dressed in an outlandish, pi- 
ratical costume. On seeing the boy he 
gave a loud shout and was immediately 
joined by four companions, each as disa- 
greeable in appearance as the first. 

Rob knew there would be trouble the 
moment he looked at this evil crew, and 
when they drew their daggers and pistols 
and began fiercely shouting in an unknown 
tongue, the boy sighed and took the electric 
tube from his coat pocket. 

The buccaneers did not notice the move- 
ment, ^'ut rushed upon him so quickly that 
he had \q^ press the button at a lively rate. 

66 



a strange sight ti 



THE B UCCA NEERS 

The tube made no noise at all, so it was a 
strange and remarkable sight to see the 
pirates suddenly drop to the deck and lie 
motionless. Indeed, one was so nearlj' 
upon him when the electric current struck 
him that his head, in falling, bumped into 
Rob's stomach and sent him reeling against 
the side of the vessel. 

He quickly recovered himself, and seeing 
his enemies were rendered harmless, the 
boy entered the cabin and examined it 
curiously. It was dirty and ill-smelling 
enough, but the corners and spare berths 
were heaped with merchandise of all kinds 
which had been taken from those so un- 
lucky as to have met these cruel and des- 
perate men. 

After a short inspection of the place he 
returned to the deck and again seated him- 
self in the bow. 

The crippled condition of his traveling 
machine was now his chief trouble, and 
although a good breeze had sprung up to fill 

(>7 



THE MASTER KET 

the sails and the little bark was making fair 
licadwa}', Rob knew he could never expect 
to reach home unless he could discover a 
better mode of conveyance than this. 

He unstrapped the machine from his 
wrist to examine it better, and while hold- 
ing it carelessly in his hand it slipped and 
fell with a bang to the deck, striking upon 
its round edge and rolling quickly past the 
cabin and out of sight. With a cry of alarm 
he ran after it, and after much search found 
it lying against the bulwark near the edge 
of a scupper hole, where the least jar of 
the ship would have sent it to the bottom of 
the ocean. Rob hastily seized his treasure, 
and upon examining it found the fall had 
bulged the rim so that the old dents scarcely 
showed at all. But its original shape was 
more distorted than ever, and Rob feared 
he had utterly ruined its delicate mechan- 
ism. Should this prove to be true, he 
might now consider himself a prisoner of 
this piratical band, the members of which, 

68 



THE BUCCANEERS 

although temporarily disabled, would soon 
regain consciousness. 

He sat in the bow, sadly thinking of his 
misfortunes, until he noticed that one of the 
men began to stir. The effect of the elec- 
tric shock conveyed by the tube was begin- 
ning to wear away, and now the buccaneer 
sat up, rubbed his head in a bewildered 
fashion and looked around him. When he 
saw Rob he gave a shout of rage and drew 
his knife, but one motion of the electric 
tube made him cringe and slip away to the 
cabin, where he remained out of danger. 

And now the other four sat up, groaning 
and muttering in their outlandish speech; 
but they had no notion of facing Rob's tube a 
second time, so one by one they joined their 
leader in the cabin, leaving the boy undis- 
turbed. 

By this time the ship had begun to pitch 
and toss in an uncomfortable fashion, and 
Rob noticed that the breeze had increased to 
a gale. There being no one to look after 

69 



THE MASTER KET 

the sails, the vessel was in grave danger of 
capsizing or breaking her masts. The 
waves were now running high, too, and 
Rob began to be worried. 

Presently the captain of the pirates stuck 
his head out of the cabin door, jabbered 
some unintelligible words and pointed to 
the sails. The boy nodded, for he under- 
stood they wanted to attend to the rigging. 
So the crew trooped forth, rather fearfully, 
and began to reef the sails and put the ship 
into condition to weather the storm. 

Rob paid no further attention to them. 
He looked at his traveling machine rather 
doubtfully and wondered if he dared risk 
its power to carry him through the air. 
Whether he remained in the ship or trusted 
to the machine, he stood a good chance of 
dropping into the sea at any moment. So, 
while he hesitated, he attached the ma- 
chine to his wrist and leaned over the bul- 
warks to watch the progress of the storm. 



70 



THE BUCCANEERS 

He might stay in the ship until it foundered, 
he thought, and then take his chances with 
the machine. He decided to wait until a 
climax arrived. 

The climax came the next moment, for 
while he leaned over the bulwarks the buc- 
caneers stole up behind him and suddenly 
seized him in their grasp. While two of 
them held his arms the others searched his 
pockets, taking from him the electric tube 
and the silver box containing his tablets. 
These they carried to the cabin and threw 
upon the heap of other valuables they had 
stolen. They did not notice his traveling 
machine, however, but seeing him now un- 
armed they began jeering and laughing at 
him, while the brutal captain relieved his 
anger by giving the prisoner several mali- 
cious kicks. 

Rob bore his misfortune meekly , although 
he was almost ready to oxy with grief and 
disappointment. But when one of the pi- 



71 



THE MASTER KEY 

rates, to inflict further punishment on the 
boy, came towards him with a heavy strap, 
he resolved not to await the blow. 

Turning the indicator to the word "up" 
he found, to his joy and relief, that it would 
yet obey the influence of the power of re- 
pulsion. Seeing him rise into the air the 
fellow made a grab for his foot and held 
it firmly, while his companions ran to help 
him. Weight seemed to make no difference 
in the machine; it lifted the pirate as well 
as Rob; it lifted another who clung to the 
first man's leg, and another who clung to 
him. The other two also caught hold, 
hoping their united strength would pull 
him down, and the next minute Rob was 
soaring through the air with the entire 
string of five buccaneers dangling from his 
left leg. 

At first the villains were too astounded to 
speak, but as they realized that they were 
being carried through the air and away from 
their ship they broke into loud shouts of 

^2 



THE B UCCA NEERS 



dismay, and finally the one who grasped 
Rob's leg lost his hold and the five plunged 
downward and splashed into the sea. 

Finding the machine disposed to work 
accurately, Rob left the buccaneers to swim 
to the ship in the best way they could, while 
he dropped down to the deck again and re- 
covered from the cabin his box of tablets 
and the electric tube. The fellows were just 
scrambling on board when he again escaped, 
shooting into the air with considerable 
speed. 

Indeed, the instrument now worked bet- 
ter than at any time since he had reached 
thecanni'bal island, and the boy was greatly 
delighted. 

The wind at first sent him spinning away 
to the south, but he continued to rise until 
he was above the air currents, and the storm 
raged far beneath him. Then he set the 
indicator to the northwest and breathlessly 
waited to see if it would obey. Hurrah! 
away he sped at a fair rate of speed, while 

73 



THE MA S TER KE 1 



all his anxiety changed to a feeling of sweet 
contentment. 

His success had greatly surprised him, 
but he concluded that the jar caused by drop- 
ping the instrument had relieved the pres- 
sure upon the works, and so helped rather 
than harmed the free action of the electric 
currents. 

While he moved throu^rh the air with an 
easy, gliding motion he watched with much 
interest the storm raging below. Above 
his head the sun was peacefully shining and 
the contrast was strange and impressive. 
After an hour or so the storm abated, or 
else he passed away from it, for the deep 
blue of the ocean again greeted his e)^es. 
He dropped downward until he was about 
a hundred feet above the water, when he 
continued his northwesterly course. 

But now he regretted having interfered 
for a moment with the action of the ma- 
chine, for his progress, instead of being 



74 



THE BUCCA XE E R S 

swift as a bird's flight, became slow and 
jerky, nor was he sure that the damaged ma- 
chine might not break down altogether at 
any moment. Yet so far his progress was 
in the right direction, and he resolved to ex- 
periment no further with the instrument, 
but to let it go as it would, so long as it 
supported him above the water. However 
irregular the motion might be, it was sure, 
if continued, to bring him to land in time, 
and that was all he cared about just then. 

When night fell his slumber was broken 
and uneasy, for he wakened more than once 
with a start of fear that the machine had 
broken and he was falling into the sea. 
Sometimes he was carried along at a swift 
pace, and again the machine scarcely 
worked at all; so his anxiety was excusable. 

The following day was one of continued 
uneasiness for the boy, who began to be 
harrassed by doubts as to whether, after all, 
he was moving in the right direction. The 



n 



THE MASTER KEY 

machine had failed at one time in this re- 
spect and it might again. He had lost all 
confidence in its accuracy. 

In spite of these perplexities Rob passed 
the second night of his uneven flight in pro- 
found slumber, being exhausted by the strain 
and excitement he had undergone. When 
he awoke at daybreak, he saw, to his pro- 
found delight, that he was approaching 
land. 

The rising sun found him passing over a 
big city, which he knew to be Boston. 

He did not stop. The machine was so 
little to be depended upon that he dared 
make no halt. But he was obliged to alter 
the direction from northwest to west, and 
the result of this slight change was so great 
a reduction in speed that it was mid-day be- 
fore he saw beneath him the familiar village 
in which he lived. 

Carefully marking the location of his 
father's house, he came to a stop directly 
over it, and a few moments later he man- 

76 



THE BUCCANEERS 

aged to land upon the exact spot in the back 
yard whence he had taken his tirst success- 
ful flight. 




CHAPTER SEVEN 



THE DEMON BECOMES ANGRY 



WHEN Rob had been hugged and 
kissed by his mother and sisters, 
and even Mr. Joslyn had embraced him 
warml}^, he gave them a brief account of 
his adventures. The story was received 
with many doubtful looks and much grave 
shaking of heads, as was quite natural under 
the circumstances. 

'' I hope, my dear son," said his father, 
' ' that you have now passed through enough 
dangers to last you a lifetime, so that here- 
after you will be contented to remain at 
home." 

78 



THE DEMON BECOMES ANGRY 

''Oh, Robert!" cried his mother, with 
tears in her loving eyes, '*you don't know 
how we've all worried about you for the 
past week!" 

''A week?" asked Rob, with surprise, 

^'Yes; it's a week to-morrow morning 
since you flew into the air and disappeared." 

^'Then," said the bo}', thoughtfully, 
*^Pve reached home just in time." 

^'In time for what?" she asked. 

But he did not answer that question. He 
was thinking of the Demon, and that on the 
afternoon of this very day he might expect 
the wise and splendid genius to visit him a 
second time. 

At luncheon, although he did not feel 
hungry, he joined the family at table and 
pleased his mother by eating as heartily 
as of old. lie was surprised to find how 
good the food tasted, and to realize what a 
pleasure it is to gratify one's sense of taste. 
The tablets were all right for a journey, he 
thought, but if he always ate them he would 

79 



THE MASTER KET 



be sure to miss a great deal of enjoyment, 
since there was no taste to them at all. 

At four o'clock he went to his workshop 
and unlocked the door. Everything was 
exactly as he had left it, and he looked at 
his simple electrical devices with some 
amusement. The}- seemed tame beside the 
wonders now in his possession; yet he recol- 
lected that his numerous wires had enabled 
him to strike the Master Key, and therefore 
should not be despised. 

Before long he noticed a quickening in 
the air, as if it were suddenly surcharged 
with electric fluid, and the next instant, in 
a dazzling flash of light, appeared the 
Demon. 

^4 am here!'' he announced, 

^'So am I,'' answered Rob, ^^Butatone 
time I really thought I should never see you 
asrain. I've been — " 

^^ Spare me your history," said the De- 
mon, coldly, "I am aware of your advent- 



ures." 



80 



THE DEMON BECOMES ANGRY 



^^Oh, you are!" said Rob, amazed* 
^^Then you know — " 

*'I know all about your foolish experi- 
ences," interrupted the Demon, *'for I have 
been with you constantly, although I re- 
mained invisible." 

"Then you know what a jolly time I've 
had," returned the boy. "But why do you 
call them foolish experiences?" 

"Because they were, abominably fool- 
ish!" retorted the Demon, bitterly, "I en- 
trusted to you gifts of rare scientific interest 
— electrical devices of such utility that their 
general adoption by mankind would create a 
new era in earth life. I hoped your use of 
these devices would convey such hints to 
electrical engineers that they would quickly 
comprehend their mechanism and be able 
to reproduce them in sufficient quantities to 
supply the world. And how do you treat 
these marvelous gifts? Why, you carry 
them to a cannibal island, where even your 
crude civilization has not yet penetrated!" 

8i 



THE MASTER KET 



^' I wanted to astonish the natives," said 
Rob, grinning. 

The Demon uttered an exclamation of 
anger, and stamped his foot so fiercely that 
thousands of electric sparks filled the air, to 
disappear quickl}^ with a hissing, crinkling 
sound. 

'' You might have astonished those igno- 
rant natives as easily by showing them an 
ordinary electric light," he cried, mock- 
ingly, " The power of your gifts would 
have startled the most advanced electricians 
of the world. Why did you waste them 
upon barbarians?" 

" Really," faltered Rob, who was fright- 
ened and awed by the Demon's vehement 
anger, " I never intended to visit a cannibal 
island. I meant to go to Cuba." 

" Cuba! Is that a center of advanced 
scientific thought? Why did you not take 
your marvels to New York or Chicago; or, 
if you wished to cross the ocean, to Paris or 
Vienna?" 

82 



THE DEMOX BECOMES AXGR) 



"\ never thought of those places," ac- 
knowledged Rob, meekl)'. 

" Then you were foolish, as 1 said," de- 
clared the Demon, in a calmer tone. '^Can 
3^ou not realize that it is better to be consid- 
ered great by the intelligent thinkers of the 
earth, than to be taken for a god by stupid 
cannibals?" 

'' Oh, yes, of course," said Rob. ''\ wish 
now that I had gone to Europe. But you're 
not the only one who has a kick coming," 
he continued. ''Your flimsy traveling ma- 
chine was nearly the death of me." 

''Ah, it is true," acknowledged the De- 
mon, frankly. "The case was made of 
too light material. When the rim was 
bent it pressed against the works and im- 
peded the proper action of the currents. 
Had you gone to a civilized countr)^ such 
an accident could not have happened; but 
to avoid possible trouble in the future I 
have prepared a new instrument, having a 



83 



THE MASTER KET 

stronger case, which I will exchange for the 
one you now have." 

''That's vcr}^ kind of you,'' said Rob, 
eagerly handing his battered machine to the 
Demon and receiving the new one in re- 
turn, ^^Are you sure this will work?" 

'* It is impossible for you to injure it," 
answered the other. 

*^And how about the next three gifts?" 
inquired the boy, anxiously. 

'' Before I grant them," replied the De- 
mon, '^ you must give me a promise to keep 
away from uncivilized places and to exhibit 
your acquirements only among people of 
intelligence." 

''All right," agreed the boy; '^ I'm not 
anxious to visit that island again, or any 
other uncivilized country." 

" Then I will add to your possessions 
three gifts, each more precious and impor- 
tant than the three you have already re- 
ceived." 

At this announcement Rob began to 

84 



THE DEMON BECOMES AXGRV 



quiver with excitement, and sat staring 
eagerly at the Demon, while the latter in- 
creased in stature and sparkled and glowed 
more brilliantly than ever. 




s 



CHAPTER EIGHT 

ROB ACQUIRES NEW POWERS 

"T HAVE seen the folly of sending you 
J|_ into the world with an offensive in- 
strument, yet with no method of defense," 
resumed the Demon, presently. '*You have 
knocked over a good many people with that 
tube during the past week." 

"I know," said Rob; "but Icouldn't help 
it. It was the only way I had to protect my- 
self." 

"Therefore my next gift shall be this 
Garment of Protection. You must wear it 
underneath your clothing. It has power to 
accumulate and exercise electrical repellent 



ROB AatCf/RIiS X^ir POWERS 

force. Perhaps you do not know what that 
means, so I will explain more fully. When 
any missile, such as a bullet, sword or lance, 
approaches your person, its rush through 
the air will arouse the repellent force of 
which I speak, and this force, being more 
powerful than the projective force, will ar- 
rest the flight of the missile and throw it 
back again. Therefore nothing can touch 
your person that comes with any degree of 
force or swiftness, and you will be safe from 
all ordinary weapons. When wearing this 
Garment you will find it unnecessary to use 
the electric tube except on rare occasions. 
Never allow revenge or animosity to influ- 
ence your conduct. Men may threaten, but 
they can not injure you, so you must re- 
member that they do not possess your 
mighty advantages, and that, because of 
your strength, you should bear with them 
patiently." 

Rob examined the garment with much 
curiosity. It glittered like silver, yet was 

87 



THE MASTER KEY 

soft and pliable as lamb's wool. Evidently 
the Demon had prepared it especially for 
his use, for it was just Rob's size. 

^^Now," continued the Demon, more 
gravely, ^'we approach the subject of an 
electrical device so truly marvelous that even 
I am awed when I contemplate the accura- 
cy and perfection of the natural laws which 
guide it and permit it to exercise its func- 
tions. Mankind has as yet conceived noth- 
ing like it, for it requires full knowledge of 
electrical power to understand even its pos- 
sibilities." 

The Being paused, and drew from an 
inner pocket something resembling a flat 
metal box. In size it was about four inches 
by six, and nearly an inch in thickness, 

^^What is it?" asked Rob, wonderingly. 

^4t is an automatic Record of Events," 
answered the Demon. 

^4 don't understand," said Rob, with 
hesitation. 

^' I will explain to you its use," returned 

88 



ROB ACQUIRES NEW POWERS 

the Demon, ^^ although the electrical forces 
which operate it and the vibratory currents 
which are the true records must remain un- 
known to you until your brain has mastered 
the higher knowledge of electricity. At 
present the practical side of this invention 
will be more interesting to you than a re- 
view of its scientific construction. 

'' Suppose you wish to know the princi- 
pal events that are occurring in Ger- 
many at the present moment. You first 
turn this little wheel at the side until the 
word ^ GERMANY ' appears in the slot at 
the small end. Then open the top cover, 
which is hinged, and those passing events in 
which you are interested will appear before 
your eyes. '' 

The Demon, as he spoke, opened the 
cover, and, looking within, the boy saw, as 
in a mirror, a moving picture before him. 
A regiment of soldiers was marching 
through the streets of Berlin, and at its 
head rode a body of horsemen, in the midst 

89 



THE MASTER KET 



of which was the Emperor himself. The 
people who thronged the sidewalks cheered 
and • waved their hats and handkerchiefs 
with enthusiasm, while a band of musicians 
played a German air, which Rob could dis- 
tinctly hear. • 

While he gazed, spell-bound, the scene 
ckanged, and he looked upon a great war- 
ship entering a harbor with flying pennants. 
The rails were lined with officers and men 
straining their eyes for the first sight of their 
beloved ^^ Vaterland^'* after a long foreign 
cruise, and a ringing cheer, as from a thou- 
sand throats, came famtly to Rob's ear. 

Again the scene changed, and within a 
dingy, underground room, hemmed in by 
walls of stone, and dimly lighted by a flick- 
ering lamp, a body of wild-eyed, desperate 
men were plighting an oath to murder the 
Emperor and overthrow his government, 

^ ^Anarchists?" asked Rob, trembling 
with excitement. 

^^ Anarchists!" answered the Demon, with 

90 



ROB ACQUIRES NEW POWERS 

a faint sneer, and he shut the cover of the 
Record with a sudden snap. 

^^It's wonderful I" cried the boy, with a 
sigh that was followed by a slight shiver. 

^^ The Record is, indeed, proof within 
itself of the marvelous possibilities of elec- 
tricity. Men are now obliged to depend 
upon newspapers for information; but these 
can only relate events long after they have 
occurred. And newspaper statements are 
often unreliable and sometimes wholly 
false, while many events of real importance 
are never printed in their columns. You 
may guess what an improvement is this 
automatic Record of Events, which is as re- 
liable as Truth itself. Nothing can be 
altered or falsified, for the vibratory cur- 
rents convey the actual events to your vis- 
ion, even as they happen.'' 

^^ But suppose," said Rob, "that some- 
thing important should happen while Pm 
asleep, or not looking at the box?" 

"I have called this a Record," replied 

91 



— I 



THE MASTER KEY 



the Demon, ^^and such it really is, although 
I have shown you only such events as are 
in process of being recorded. By pressing 
this spring you may open the opposite cover 
of the box, where aU events of importance 
that have occurred throughout the world 
during the previous twenty-four hours will 
appear before you in succession. You may 
thus study them at your leisure. The vari- 
ous scenes constitute a register of the world's 
history, and may be recalled to view as often 
as you desire.'' 

^4t's — it's like knowing everything," 
murmured Rob, deeply impressed for per- 
haps the first time in his life. 

'^\\.is knowing everything," returned the 
Demon; ^^and this mighty gift I have de- 
cided to entrust to your care. Be very care- 
ful as to whom you permit to gaze upon 
these pictures of passing events, for knowl- 
edge may often cause great misery to the 
human race." 

^^I'U be careful," promised the boy, as 

92 



ROB ACQUIRES NEW POWERS 

he took the box reverently within his own 
hands. 

^^The third and last gift of the present 
series," resumed the Demon, "is one no 
less curious than the Record of Events, al- 
though it has an entirely different value. It 
is a Character Marker." 

"What's that?" inquired Rob. 

"I will explain. Perhaps you know that 
your fellow-creatures are more or less hypo- 
critical. That is, they try to appear good 
when they are not, and wise when in reality 
they are foolish. They tell you they are 
friendly when they positively hate you, and 
try to make you believe they are kind when 
their natures are cruel. This hypocrisy 
seems to be a human failing. One of your 
writers has said, with truth, that among civ- 
ilized people things are seldom what they 
seem." 

"Pve heard that," remarked Rob. 

"On the other hand," continued the 
Demon, "some people with fierce counte- 

93 



^ THE MA S TER KEY 

nances are kindly by nature, and many who 
appear to be evil are in reality honorable 
and trustworthy. Therefore, that you ma}^ 
judge all your fellow-creatures truly, and 
know upon whom to depend, I give you 
the Character Marker. It consists of this 
pair of spectacles. While you wear them 
every one you meet will be marked upon 
the forehead with a letter indicating his px 
her character. The good will bear the letter 
'G,' the evil the letter 'E.' The wise will 
be marked with a 'W and the foolish with 
an *F.' The kind will show a ^K' upon 
their foreheads and the cruel a letter ^C 
Thus you may determine by a single look 
the true natures of all those you encounter." 

^'And are these, also, electrical in their 
construction?" asked the boy, as he took 
the spectacles. 

^'Certainly. Goodness, wisdom and kind- 
ness are natural forces, creating character. 
For this reason men are not always to blame 



94 



ROB ACQUIRES NEW POWERS 

for bad character, as they acquire it uncon- 
sciously. All character sends out certain 
electrical vibrations, which these spectacles 
concentrate in their lenses and exhibit to the 
gaze of their wearer, as I have explained." 

^^It's a fine idea," said the boy;^'who 
discovered it?" 

'4t is a fact that has always existed, but 
is now utilized for the first time." 

^^Oh!" said Rob. 

^'With these gifts, and the ones you ac- 
quired a week ago, you are now equipped 
to astound the world and awaken mankind 
to a realization of the wonders that may be 
accomplished by natural forces. See that 
you employ these powers wisely, in the in- 
terests of science, and do not forget your 
promise to exhibit your electrical marvels 
only to those who are most capable of com- 
prehending them." 

^^Pll remember," said Rob. 

^^Then adieu until a week from to-day, 



95 



THE MASTER KET 

when I will meet you here at this hour and 
bestow upon you the last three gifts which 
you are entitled^to receive. Good-by!" 

"Good-byl" regpated Rob, and in a gor- 
geous flajfe-of^oTor the Demon disappeared, 
leavingjhe boy alone in the room with his 
new and wonderful possessions. 



9« 




CHAPTER NINE 



THE SECOND JOURNEY 

BY this time you will have gained a 
fair idea of Rob's character. He is, 
in truth, a typical American boy, possessing 
an average intelligence not yet regulated 
by the balance-wheel of experience. The 
mysteries of electricity were so attractive 
to his eager nature that he had devoted 
considerable time and some study to electri- 
cal experiment; but his study was the super- 
ficial kind that seeks to master only such 
details as may be required at the moment. 
Moreover, he was full of boyish reckless- 
ness and irresponsibility and therefore diffi- 

97 



THE MASTER KET 

cult to impress with the dignity of science 
and the gravity of human existence. Life, 
to him, was a great theater wherein he saw 
himself the most interesting if not the most 
important actor, and so enjoyed the play 
with unbounded enthusiasm. 

Aside from the extraordinary accident 
which had forced the Electrical Demon into 
his life, Rob may be considered one of those 
youngsters who might possibly develop into 
a brilliant manhood or enter upon an ordi- 
nary, humdrum existence, as Fate should 
determine. Just at present he had no 
thought beyond the passing hour, nor would 
he bother himself by attempting to look 
ahead or plan for the future. 

Yet the importance of his electrical pos- 
sessions and the stern injunction of the De- 
mon to use them wisely had rendered the 
boy more thoughtful than at any previous 
time during his brief life, and he became 
so preoccupied at the dinner table that his 



98 



THE SECOND J OUR NET 

father and mother cast many anxious looks 
in his direction. 

Of course Rob was anxious to test his 
newly-acquired powers, and decided to lose 
no time in starting upon another journey. 
But he said nothing to any of the family 
about it, fearing to meet with opposition. 

He passed the evening in the sitting-room, 
in company with his father and mother and 
sisters, and even controlled his impatience 
to the extent of playing a game of carom 
with Nell; but he grew so nervous and 
impatient at last that his sister gave up the 
game in disgust and left him to his own 
amusement. 

At one time he thought of putting on the 
electric spectacles and seeing what the real 
character of each member of his family 
might be; but a sudden fear took posses- 
sion of him that he might regret the act 
forever afterward. They were his nearest 
and dearest friends on earth, and in his 



99 



THE MASTER KEY 

boyish heart he loved them all and believed 
in their goodness and sincerity. The pos- 
sibility of finding a bad character mark on 
any of their familiar faces made him shud- 
der, and he determined then and there 
never to use the spectacles to view the face 
of a friend or relative. Had any one, at 
that moment, been gazing at Rob through 
the lenses of the wonderful Character 
Marker, I am sure a big ^^W would have 
been found upon the boy's forehead. 

When the family circle broke up, and all 
retired for the night, Rob kissed his parents 
and sisters with real affection before going 
to his own room. But, on reaching his 
cozy little chamber, instead of preparing 
for bed Rob clothed himself in the Garment 
of Repulsion. Then he covered the glit- 
tering Garment with his best summer suit 
of clothes, which effectually concealed it. 

He now looked around to see what else 
he should take, and thought of an umbrella, 
a rain-coat, a book or two to read during 

lOO 



THE SECOND JOURNEY 

the journey, and several things besides; but 
he ended by leaving them all behind. 

'' I can't be loaded down with so much 
truck,'' he decided; ^' and I'm going into 
civilized countries, this time, where I can 
get anything I need." 

However, to prevent a recurrence of the 
mistake he had previously made, he tore a 
map of the world and a map of Europe 
from his geography, and, folding them up, 
placed them in his pocket. He also took a 
small compass that had once been a watch- 
charm, and, finally, the contents of a small 
iron bank that opened with a combina- 
tion lock. This represented all his sav- 
ings, amounting to two dollars and seven- 
teen cents in dimes, nickles and pennies. 

^' It isn't a fortune," he thought, as he 
counted it up, '^ but I didn't need any 
money the last trip, so perhaps I'll get 
along somehow. I don't like to tackle 
dad for more, for he might ask questions 
and try to keep me at home." 

lOI 



THE MASTER KEY 



By the time he had finished his prepara- 
tions and stowed all his electrical belong- 
ings in his various pockets, it was nearly 
midnight and the house was quiet. So Rob 
stole down stairs in his stocking feet and 
noiselessly opened the back door. 

It was a beautiful July night and, in 
addition to the light of the full moon, the 
sky was filled with the radiance of count- 
less thousands of brilliant stars. 

After Rob had put on his shoes he un- 
folded the map, which was plainly visible 
by the starlight, and marked the direction 
he must take to cross the Atlantic and reach 
London, his first stopping place. Then he 
consulted his compass, put the indicator of 
his traveling machine to the word *^up," 
and shot swiftly into the air. When he 
had reached a sufficient height he placed 
the indicator to a point north of east and, 
with a steady and remarkably swift flight, 
began his journe}-. 

^* Here goes," he remarked, with a sense 

102 



THE SECOND yOirR.YE} 

of exaltation, " for another week of advent- 
ure! I wonder what'll happen between 
now and next Saturday." 



CHAPTER TEN 

HOW ROB SERVED A MIGHTY KING 

THE new traveling machine was a 
distinct improvement over the old 
one, for it carried Rob with wonderful 
speed across the broad Atlantic. 

He fell asleep soon after starting, and 
only wakened when the sun was high in 
the heavens. But he found himself whirl- 
ing along at a good rate, with the greenish 
shimmer of the peaceful ocean waves spread 
beneath him far beyond his range of vision. 

Being in the track of the ocean steamers 
it was not long before he found himself 
overtaking a magnificent vessel whose 



HOW ROB SERVED A KING 

decks were crowded with passengers. He 
dropped down some distance, to enable 
him to see these people more plainly, and 
while he hovered near he could hear the 
excited exclamations of the passengers, who 
focused dozens of marine glasses upon his 
floating form. This inspection somewhat 
embarrassed him, and having no mind to 
be stared at he put on additional speed and 
soon left the steamer far behind him. 

About noon the sky clouded over, and 
Rob feared a rainstorm was approaching. 
So he rose to a point considerably beyond 
the clouds, where the air was thin but re- 
markably pleasant to inhale and the rays 
of the sun were not so hot as when reflected 
by the surface of the water. 

He could see the dark clouds rolling be- 
neath him like volumes of smoke from a 
factory chimney, and knew the earth was 
catching a severe shower of rain; yet he 
congratulated himself on his foresight in 
not being burdened with umbrella or rain- 

105 



THE MASTER KEY 

coat, since his elevated position rendered 
him secure from rain-clouds. 

But, having cut himself off from the 
earth, there remained nothing to see except 
the clear sky overhead and the tumbling 
clouds beneath; so he took from his pocket 
the Automatic Record of Events, and 
watched with breathless interest the inci- 
dents occurring in different parts of the 
world. A big battle was being fought in 
the Philippines, and so fiercely was it con- 
tested that Rob watched its progress for 
hours, with rapt attention. Finally a brave 
rally by the Americans sent their foes to the 
cover of the woods, where they scattered in 
every direction, only to form again in a 
deep valley hidden by high hills. 

'' If only I was there," thought Rob, 
'' I could show that captain where to find 
the rebels and capture them. But I guess 
the Philippines are rather out of my way, 
so our soldiers will never know how near 
they are to a complete victory." 

10$ 



HO W ROB SER VED A KING 

The boy also found considerable amuse- 
ment in watching the course of an insurrec- 
tion in Venezuela, where opposing armies 
of well-armed men preferred to bluster and 
threaten rather than comedo blows. 

During the evening he found that an 
^Mmportant event" was Madame Bern- 
hardt's production of a new play, and Rob 
followed it from beginning to end with great 
enjoyment, although he felt a bit guilty at 
not having purchased a ticket. 

^^But it's a crowded house, anyway," he 
reflected, ^^and Pm not taking up a reserved 
seat or keeping any one else from seeing the 
show. So where's the harm? Yet it seems 
to me if these Records get to be common, 
as the Demon wishes, people will all stay 
at home and see the shows, and the poor 
actors Ml starve to death." 

The thought made him uneasy, and he 
began, for the first time, to entertain a 
doubt of the Demon's wisdom in forcing 
such devices upon humanity. 

107 



THE MASTER KEY 

The clouds had now passed away and 
the moon sent her rays to turn the edges of 
the waves into glistening showers of jewels. 

Rob closed the lid of the wonderful Rec- 
ord of Events and soon fell into a deep 
sleep that held him unconscious for many 
hours. 

When he awoke he gave a start of sur- 
prise, for beneath him was land. How 
long it was since he had left the ocean be- 
hind him he could not guess, but his first 
thought was to set the indicator of the trav- 
eling machine to zero and to hover over 
the country until he could determine where 
he was. 

This was no easy matter. He saw green 
fields, lakes, groves and villages; but these 
might exist in any country. Being still at a 
great elevation he descended gradually until 
he was about twenty feet from the surface 
of the earth, where he paused near the edge 
of a small village. 

At once a crowd of excited people assem- 

io8 




-ushed toward it, Init the iic>:t ii 



HO W ROB SERVED A KING 

1 

bled, shouting to one another and pointing 
towards him in wonder. In order to be pre- 
pared for emergencies Rob had taken the 
electric tube from his pocket, and now, as 
he examined the dress and features of the 
people below, the tube suddenly slipped 
from his grasp and fell to the ground, where 
one end stuck slantingly into the soft earth. 

A man rushed eagerly towards it, but the 
next moment he threw up his hands and fell 
upon his back, unconscious. Others who 
ran to assist their fallen comrade quickly 
tumbled into a heap beside him. 

It was evident to Rob that the tube had 
fallen in such a position that the button was 
being pressed continually and a current of 
electric fluid issued to shock whoever came 
near. Not wishing to injure these people 
he dropped to the ground and drew the tube 
from the earth, thus releasiog the pressure 
upon the button. 

But the villagers had now decided that the 
boy was their enemy, and no sooner had he 

109 



THE MA S TER KEY 

touched the ground than a shower of stones 
and sticks rained about him. Not one 
reached his body, however, for the Garment 
of Repulsion stopped their flight and re- 
turned them to rattle with more or less 
force against those who had thrown them — 
''like regular boomerangs," thought Rob. 

To receive their own blows in this fashion 
seemed so like magic to the simple folk 
that with roars of fear and pain they ran 
away in all directions. 

" It's no use stopping here," remarked 
Rob, regretfully, ''for I've spoiled my wel- 
come by this accident. I think these peo- 
ple are Irish, by their looks and speech, so 
I must be somewhere in the Emerald Isle." 

He consulted his map and decided upon 
the general direction he should take to reach 
England, after which he again rose into the 
air and before long was passing over the 
channel towards the shores of England. 

Either his map or compass or his calcula- 
tions proved wrong, for it was high noon 

no 



HOW ROB SERVED A KING 

before, having changed his direction a half 
dozen times, he came to the great city of 
London. He saw at a glance that it would 
never do to drop into the crowded streets, 
unless he wanted to become an object of 
public curiosity; so he looked around for a 
suitable place to alight. 

Near by was a monstrous church that 
sent a sharp steeple far into the air. Rob 
examined this spire and saw a narrow open- 
ing in the masonry that led to a small room 
where a chime of bells hung. He crept 
through the opening and, finding a ladder 
that connected the belfry with a platform 
below, began to descend. 

There were three ladders, and then a 
winding flight of narrow, rickety stairs to 
be passed before Rob finally reached a 
small room in the body of the church. This 
room proved to have two doors, one con- 
necting with the auditorium and the other 
letting into a side street. Both were 
locked, but Rob pointed the electric tube at 

III 



THE MASTER KET 

the outside door and broke the lock in an 
instant. Then he walked into the street as 
composedly as if he had lived all his life in 
London. 

There were plenty of sights to see, you 
may be sure, and Rob walked around until 
he was so tired that he was glad to rest 
upon one of the benches in a beautiful park. 
Here, half hidden by the trees, he amused 
himself by looking at the Record of Events. 

" London's a great town, and no mis- 
take," he said to himself; ''but let's see 
what the British are doing in South Africa 
to-day." 

He turned the cylinder to ''South Africa," 
and, opening the lid, at once became inter- 
ested. An English column, commanded by 
^ brave but stubborn officer, was surrounded 
by the Boer forces and fighting desperately 
jto avoid capture or annihilation. 

" This would be interesting to King Ed- 
ward," thought the boy, " Guess J'll hunt 
^im up and tell him about it/^ 

112 



HO W ROB SERVED A KING 

A few steps away stood a policeman. 
Rob approached him and asked: 

^^ Where's the king to-day ?" 

The officer looked at him with mingled 
surprise and suspicion. 

^^'Is Majesty is sojournin' at Marlb'ro 
'Ouse, just now," was the reply. ^'Per'aps 
you wants to make 'im a wissit," he con- 
tinued, with lofty sarcasm. 

^^That's it, exactly,'' said Rob. "Vm an 
American, and thought while I was in Lon- 
don I'd drop in on His Royal Highness 
and say 'hello' to him." 

The officer chuckled, as if much amused. 

''Hamericans isbloomin' green," he re- 
marked, ''so youse can stand for Hameri- 
can, right enough. No other wissitors is 
such blarsted fools. But yon's the palace, 
an' I s'pose 'is Majesty'll give ye a 'ot re- 
ception." 

"Thanks; I'll look him up," said the 
boy, and left the officer convulsed with 
laughter, 

"3 



THE MASTER KEY 



He soon knew why. The palace was 
surrounded by a cordon of the king's own 
life guards, who admitted no one save those 
who presented proper credentials. 

^'There's only one thing to do;" thought 
Rob, '^ and that's to walk straight in, as I 
haven't any friends to give me a regular in- 
troduction." 

So he boldly advanced to the gate, where 
he found himself stopped by crossed car- 
bines and a cry of ^^Halt!" 

^'Excuse me," said Rob; ''I'm in a hur- 
ry." 

He pushed the carbines aside and marched 
on. The soldiers made thrusts at him with 
their weapons, and an officer jabbed at his 
breast with a glittering sword, but the Gar- 
ment of Repulsion protected him from these 
dangers as well as from a hail of bullets that 
followed his advancing figure. 

He reached the entrance of the palace 
only to face another group of guardsmen 
and a second order to halt, and as these sol- 

114 



of the paliii 



miy to face 



HOW ROB SEE VED A KING 

diers were over six feet tall and stood 
shoulder to shoulder Rob saw that he could 
not hope to pass them without using his 
electric tube. 

^^ Stand aside, you fellows!" he ordered. 

There was no response. He extended 
the tube and, as he pressed the button, de- 
scribed a semi-circle with the instrument. 
Immediately the tall guardsmen toppled 
over like so many tenpins, and Rob stepped 
across their bodies and penetrated to the re- 
ception room, where a brilliant assemblage 
awaited, in hushed and anxious groups, foi 
opportunity to obtain audience with the 
king. 

^^I hope his Majesty isn't busy," said Rob 
to a solemn-visaged official who confronted 
him. '^\ want to have a little talk with 
him." 

'^\ — I — ah — ^beg pardon!" exclaimed the 
astounded master of ceremonies. ^^What 
name, please?" 

^^Ohj never mind my name," replied 

115 



THE MASTER KET 



Rob, and pushing the gentleman aside he 
entered the audience chamber of the great 
king. 

King Edward was engaged in earnest con- 
sultation with one of his ministers, and after 
a look of surprise in Rob's direction and a 
grave bow he bestowed no further attention 
upon the intruder. 

But Rob was not to be baffled now. 

^^Your Majesty," he interrupted, ^'Pve 
important news for you. A big fight is 
taking place in South Africa and your sol- 
diers will probably be cut into mince meat." 

The minister strode towards the boy 
angrily. 

^^Explain this intrusion!'' he cried. 

^^I have explained. The Boers are hav- 
ing a regular killing-bee. Here! take a 
look at it yourselves." 

He drew the Record from his pocket, 
and at the movement the minister shrank 
back as if he suspected it was an infernal 
machine and might blow his head off; but 

ii6 



no W ROB SER VED A KING 



the king stepped quietly to the boy's side 
and looked into the box when Rob threw 
open the lid. 

As he comprehended the full wonder of 
the phenomenon he was observing Edward 
uttered a low cry of amazement, but there- 
after he silently gazed upon the fierce battle 
that still raged far away upon the African 
veld. Before long his keen eye recognized 
the troops engaged and realized their im- 
minent danger. 

"They'll be utterly annihilated!'' he 
gasped. "What shall we do?" 

"Oh, we can't do anything just now," 
answered Rob. "But it's curious to watch 
how bravely the poor fellows fight for their 
lives." 

The minister, who by this time was also 
peering into the box, groaned aloud, and 
then all three forgot their surroundings in 
the tragedy they were beholding. 

Hemmed in by vastly superior num- 
bers, the English were calmly and stub- 

117 



THE MASTER KEY 



bornly resisting every inch of advance and 
selling their lives as dearly as possible. 
Their leader fell pierced by a hundred bul- 
lets, and the king, who had known him 
from boyhood, passed his hand across his 
eyes as if to shut out the awful sight. But 
the fascination of the battle forced him to 
look again, and the next moment he cried 
aloud: 

''Look there 1 Look there!" 

Over the edge of a line of hills appeared 
the helmets of afileof Englishsoldiers. They 
reached the summit, followed by rank after 
rank, until the hillside was alive with them. 
And then, with a ringing cheer that came 
like a faint echo to the ears of the three 
watchers, they broke into a run and dashed 
forward to the rescue of their brave com- 
rades. The Boers faltered, gave back, and 
the next moment fled precipitately, while 
the exhausted survivors of the courageous 
band fell sobbing into the arms of their 
rescuers . 

ii8 



HOW ROB SERVED A KING 

Rob closed ^he lid of the Record with a 
sudden snap that betrayed his deep feeling, 
and the king pretended to cough behind his 
handkerchief and stealthily wiped his eyes. 

'^ 'Twasn't so bad, after all," remarked 
the boy, with assumed cheerfulness; ^^ but 
it looked mighty ticklish for your men at 
one time.'' 

King Edward regarded the boy curiously, 
remembering his abrupt entrance and the 
marvelous device he had exhibited. 

^'What do you call that?" he asked, 
pointing at the Record with a finger that 
trembled slightly from excitement. 

^^ It is a new electrical invention," replied 
Rob, replacing it in his pocket, '^and so 
constructed that events are reproduced at the 
exact moment they occur." 

^^ Where can I purchase one?" demanded 
the king, eagerly. 

'^ They're not for sale," said Rob. ^'This 
one of mine is the first that ever happened." 

^^Ohl" 

119 



THE MA S TER KEY 

'* I really think," continued the boy, 
nodding sagely, *'that it wouldn't be well 
to have these Records scattered around. 
Their use would give some folks unfair ad- 
vantage over others, you know." 

" Certainly." 

*^ I only showed you this battle because 
I happened to be in London at the time 
and thought you'd be interested." 

'^ It was verj^ kind of you," said Edward; 
*^ but how did you gain admittance?" 

^^ Well, to tell the truth, I was obliged 
to knock over a few of your tall life- guards. 
They seem to think you're a good thing 
and need looking after, like jam in a cup- 
board." 

The king smiled. 

'* I hope you haven't killed my guards," 
said he. 

'^ Oh, no; they'll come around all right." 

^Mt is necessary," continued Edward, 
'' that public men be protected from intru- 
sion, no matter how democratic they may be 

I20 



HOW R OB SER VED A KING 

personally. You would probably find it as 
difficult to approach the President of the 
United States as the King of England." 

^^Oh, Pm not complaining," said Rob. 
"It wasn't much trouble to break through." 

" You seem quite young to have mastered 
such wonderful secrets of Nature," contin- 
ued the king. 

'^ So I am," replied Rob, modestly; 
''but these natural forces have really ex- 
isted since the beginning of the world, and 
some one was sure to discover them in 
time." He was quoting the Demon, al- 
though unconsciously. 

'' You are an American, I suppose," said 
the minister, coming close to Rob and star- 
ing him in the face. 

" Guessed right the first time," answered 
the boy, and drawing his Character Mark- 
ing spectacles from his pocket, he put them 
on and stared at the minister in turn. 

Upon the man's forehead appeared the 
letter '' E." 



121 



THE MASTER KET 



^^Your Majesty/' said Rob, *M have 
here another queer invention. Will you 
please wear these spectacles for a few mo- 
ments?" 

The king at once put them on. 
, *' They are called Character Markers," 
continued the boy, ^'because the lenses 
catch and concentrate the character vibra- 
tions radiating from every human individual 
and reflect the true character of the person 
upon his forehead. If a letter ^G' appears, 
you may be sure his disposition is good; if 
his forehead is marked with an ^E' his 
character is evil, and you must beware of 
treachery." 

The king saw the ^^E" plainly marked 
upon his minister's forehead, but he said 
nothing except ^^Thankyou," and returned 
the spectacles to Rob. 

But the minister, who from the first had 
been ill at ease, now became positively 
angry. 

'' Do not believe him, your Majestyl" 

122 



HOW ROB SERVED A KING 

he cried. '' It is a trick, and meant to de- 
ceive you." 

*' I did not accuse you," answered the 
king, sternly. Then he added: ** I wish 
to be alone with this young gentleman." 

The minister left the room with an anx- 
ious face and hanging head. 

^'Now," said Rob, *^ let's look over the 
record of the past day and see if that fellow 
has been up to any mischief." 

He turned the cylinder of the Record to 
^^ England," and slowly the events of the 
last twenty-four hours were reproduced, 
one after the other, upon the polished plate. 

Before long the king uttered an exclama- 
tion. The Record pictured a small room 
in which were seated three gentlemen en- 
gaged in earnest conversation. One of them 
was the accused minister. 

'' Those men," said the king in a low 
voice, while he pointed out the other two, 
^^are my avowed enemies. This is proof that 
your wonderful spectacles indicated my min- 

123 



THE Af ASTER KET 

ister's character with perfect truth. I am 
grateful to you for thus putting me upon 
my guard, for I have trusted the man 
fuUv." 

" Oh, don't mention it," replied the boy, 
lightly; "I'm glad to have been of service 
to you. But it's time for me to go." 

" I hope you will favor me with another 
inter\new," said the king, " for I am much 
interested in your electrical inventions. I 
will instruct my guards to admit you at any 
time, so you will not be obliged to fight 
your way in." 

"All right. But it really doesn't matter," 
answered Rob. " It's no trouble at all to 
knock 'em over." 

Then he remembered his manners and 
bowed low before the king, who seemed to 
him " a fine fellow and not a bit stuck up." 
And then he walked calmly from the pal- 
ace. 

The people in the outer room stared at 
him wonderingly and the officer of the 

124 



HO W ROB SERVED A KING 

guard saluted the boy respectfully. But 
Rob only smiled in an amused way as he 
marched past them with his hands thrust 
deep into his trousers' pockets and his straw 
hat tipped jauntily upon the back of his 
head. 





CHAPTER ELEVEN 



THE MAN OF SCIENCE 



ROB passed the remainder of the day 
wandering about London and amus- 
ing himself by watching the peculiar wa3^s 
of the people. When it became so dark 
that there was no danger of his being ob- 
served, he rose through the air to the nar- 
row slit in the church tower and lay upon 
the floor of the little room, with the bells 
hanging all around him, to pass the night. 
He was just falling asleep when a tre- 
mendous din and clatter nearly deafened 
him, and set the whole tower trembling. 
It was the midnight chime. 

126 



THE MAN OF SCIENCE 

Rob clutched his ears tightly, and when 
the vibrations had died away descended b}^ 
the ladder to a lower platform. But even 
here the next hourly chime made his ears 
ring, and he kept descending from platform 
to platform until the last half of a restless 
night was passed in the little room at the 
bottom of the tower. 

When, at daylight, the boy sat up 
and rubbed his eyes, he said, wearily: 
'' Churches are all right as churches; but 
as hotels they are rank failures. I ought to 
have bunked in with my friend, King Ed- 
ward." 

He climbed up the stairs and the ladders 
again and looked out the little window in 
the belfry. Then he examined his map 
of Europe. 

'^ I believe Pll take a run over to Paris," 
he thought. '' I must be home again by 
Saturday, to meet the Demon, so Pll have 
to make every day count." 

Without waiting for breakfast, since he 

127 



THE MA S TER KET 

had eaten a tablet the evening before, he 
crept through the window and mounted 
into the fresh morning air until the great 
city with its broad waterway lay spread out 
beneath him. Then he sped away to the 
southeast and, crossing the channel, passed 
between Amiens and Rouen and reached 
Paris before ten o'clock. 

Near the outskirts of the city appeared a 
high tower, upon the flat roof of which a 
man was engaged in adjusting a telescope. 
Upon seeing Rob, who was passing at no 
great distance from this tower, the man 
cried out: 

^''Approchez! — Venez iciV^ 

Then he waved his hands frantically in 
the air, and fairly danced with excitement. 
So the boy laughed and dropped down to 
the roof where, standing beside the French- 
man, whose eyes were actually protruding 
from their sockets, he asked, coolly: 

^^Well, what do you want?'' 

The other was for a moment speechless. 

128 



of tlie Frenchman were ocliiiilly protnuliiig 
fviim their sockets 



THE MA N OF SCIENCE 

He was a tall, lean man, having a bald head 
but a thick, iron-gray beard, and his black 
eyes sparkled brightly from behind a pair of 
gold-rimmed spectacles. After attentively 
regarding the boy for a time he said, in 
broken English: 

*^But, M'sieur, how can you fly wizout ze 
— ^ze machine? I have experiment myself 
wiz some air-ship; but you — ^zere is nossing 
to make go!" 

Rob guessed that here was his opportu- 
nity to do the Demon a favor by explaining 
his electrical devices to this new acquaint- 
ance, who was evidently a man of science. 

^^Here is the secret, Professor," he said, 
and holding out his wrist displayed the trav- 
eling machine and explained, as well as he 
could, the forces that operated it. 

The Frenchman, as you may suppose, 
was greatly astonished, and to show how 
perfectly the machine worked Rob turned 
the indicator and rose a short distance above 
the tower, circling around it before he re- 

129 



THE MASTER KEY 

joined the professor on the roof. Then he 
showed his food tablets, explaining how 
each was stored with sufficient nourishment 
for an entire day. 

The scientist positively gasped for breath, 
so powerful was the excitement he experi- 
enced at witnessing these marvels. 

' ^ Eet is wonderful — grand — magnifique ! ' ' 
he exclaimed. 

*'But here is something of still greater 
interest," continued Rob, and taking the 
Automatic Record of Events from his pocket 
he allowed the professor to view the re- 
markable scenes that were being enacted 
throughout the civilized world. 

The Frenchman was now trembling vio- 
lently, and he implored Rob to tell him 
where he might obtain similar electrical ma- 
chines. 

''I can't do that," replied the boy, decid- 
edly; ^^but, having seen these, you maybe 
able to discover their construction for your- 
self. Now that you know such things to be 

130 



THE MAN OF SCIENCE 

possible and practical, the hint should be 
sufficient to enable a shrewd electrician to 
prepare duplicates of them." 

The scientist glared at him with evident 
disappointment, and Rob continued: 

"These are not all the wonders I can ex- 
hibit. Here is another electrical device that 
is, perhaps, the most remarkable of any I 
possess . ' ' 

He took the Character Marking specta- 
cles from his pocket and fitted them to his 
eyes. Then he gave a whistle of surprise 
and turned his back upon his new friend. 
He had seen upon the Frenchman's fore- 
head the letters ''E" and "C." 

" Guess I've struck the wrong sort of sci- 
entist, after alll" he muttered, in a disgusted 
tone. 

His companion was quick to prove the 
accuracy of the Character Marker. Seeing 
the boy's back turned, he seized a long iron 
bar that was used to operate the telescope, 
and struck at Rob so fiercely that had he 

131 



THE MASTER KEY 



not worn the Garment of Protection his 
skull would have been crushed by the blow. 
As it was, the bar rebounded with a force 
that sent the murderous Frenchman sprawl- 
ing upon the roof, and Rob turned around 
and laughed at him. 

'^ It won't work. Professor,'' he said. 
^' I'm proof against assassins. Perhaps 
you had an idea that when you had killed 
me you could rob me of my valuable pos- 
sessions; but they wouldn't be a particle of 
use to a scoundrel like you, I assure you! 
Good morning." 

Before the surprised and baffled scientist 
could collect himself sufficiently to reply, 
the boy was soaring far above his head and 
searching for a convenient place to alight, 
that he might investigate the charms of this 
famed city of Paris. 

It was indeed a beautiful place, with 
many stately buildings lining the shady 
boulevards. So thronged were the streets 



132 



THE MAN OF SCIENCE 

that Rob well knew he would soon be the 
center of a curious crowd should he alight 
upon them. Already a few sky-gazers had 
noted the boy moving high in the air, above 
their heads, and one or two groups stood 
pointing their fingers at him. 

Pausing at length above the imposing 
structure of the Hotel Anglais, Rob no- 
ticed at one of the upper floors an open 
window, before which was a small iron bal- 
cony. Alighting upon this he proceeded to 
enter, without hesitation, the open window. 
He heard a shriek and a cry of "Auvo- 
leurV^ and caught sight of a woman's fig- 
ure as she dashed into an adjoining room, 
slamming and locking the door behind her. 

^' I don't know as I blame her," ob- 
served Rob, with a smile at the panic he 
had created. ^' I s'pose she takes me for a 
burglar, and thinks I've climbed up the 
lightning rod." 

He soon found the door leading into the 



133 



THE MASTER KEY 



hallway and walked down several flights of 
stairs until he reached the office of the 
hotel. 

'^ How much do you charge a day?" he 
inquired, addressing a fat and pompous- 
looking gentleman behind the desk. 

The man looked at him in a surprised 
way, for he had not heard the boy enter the 
room. But he said something in French to 
a waiter who was passing, and the latter 
came to Rob and made a low bow. 

'^ I speak ze Eengliss ver' fine," he said. 
'^ What desire have you?" 

'^ What are your rates by the day?" 
asked the boy. 

^' Ten francs, M'sieur." 

'^ How many dollars is that?" 

' 'Dollar Americaine?" 

**Yes; United States money." 

^'Ah, ouil Eet is ze two dollar, M'sieur." 

''All right; I can stay about a day before 
I go bankrupt. Give me a room." 



134 



THE MAN OF SCIENCE 

^'Certainementj M'sieur. Have you ze 
luggage?'' 

''No; but I'll pay in advance," said Rob, 
and began counting out his dimes and 
nickles and pennies, to the unbounded 
amazement of the waiter, who looked as if 
he had never seen such coins before. 

He carried the money to the fat gentle- 
man, who examined the pieces curiously, 
and there was a long conference between 
them before it was decided to accept them 
in payment for a room for a day. But at 
this season the hotel was almost empty, and 
when Rob protested that he had no other 
money the fat gentleman put the coins into 
his cash box with a resigned sigh and the 
waiter showed the boy to a little room at 
the very top of the building. 

Rob washed and brushed the dust from 
his clothes, after which he sat down and 
amused himself by viewing the pictures 
that constantly formed upon the polished 
plate of the Record of Events. 

135 



CHAPTER TWELVE 

HOW ROB SAVED A REPUBLIC. 

WHILE following the shifting scenes 
of the fascinating Record Rob noted 
an occurrence that caused him to give a low 
whistle of astonishment and devote several 
moments to serious thought. 

"I believe it's about time I interfered 
with the politics of this Republic," he said, 
at last, as he closed the lid of the metal box 
and restored it to his pocket. "If I don't 
take a hand there probably won't be a Re- 
public of France very long and, as a good 
American, I prefer a republic to a mon- 
archy." 

136 



HOW ROB SAVED A REPUBLIC 

Then he walked down-stairs and found 
his English-speaking waiter. 

'* Where's President Loubet?" he asked. 

'^Ze President! Ah, he is wiz his man- 
sion. To be at his residence, M'sieur." 

'^ Where is his residence?" 

The waiter began a series of voluble and 
explicit directions which so confused the 
boy that he exclaimed: 

''Oh, much obliged!" and walked away 
in disgust. 

Gaining the street he approached a gen- 
darme and repeated his question, with no 
better result than before, for the fellow 
waved his arms wildly in all directions and 
roared a volley of incomprehensible French 
phrases that conveyed no meaning what- 
ever. 

''If ever I travel in foreign countries 
again," said Rob, "Pll learn their lingo in 
advance. Why doesn't the Demon get up a 
conversation machine that will speak all 
languages?" 

137 



THE MASTER KET 



By dint of much inquiry, however, and 
after walking several miles following am- 
biguous directions, he managed to reach 
the residence of President Loubet. But 
there he was politely informed that the 
President was busily engaged in his garden, 
and would see no one. 

'^That's all right," said the boy, calmly. 
''If he's in the garden PU have no trouble 
finding him." 

Then, to the amazement of the French- 
men, Rob shot into the air fifty feet or so, 
from which elevation he overlooked a pretty 
garden in the rear of the President's man- 
sion. The place was protected from ordi- 
nary intrusion \y\i high walls, but Rob de- 
scended within the enclosure and walked up 
to a man who was writing at a small table 
placed under the spreading branches of a 
large tree. 

*'Is this President Loubet?" he inquired, 
with a bow. 

The gentleman looked up. 

138 



HO W ROB SA VED A REPUBLIC 

^*My servants were instructed to allow no 
one to disturb me,'' he said, speaking in 
excellent English. 

*^It isn't their fault; I flev^, over the wall," 
returned Rob. ^*The fact is," he added, 
hastily, as he noted the President's frown, 
^' I have come to save the Republic; and I 
haven't much time to waste over a bundle of 
Frenchmen, either." 

The President seemed surprised. 

"Your name!" he demanded, sharply. 

" Robert Billings Joslyn, United States 
of America!" 

"Your business. Monsieur Joslyn!" 

Rob drew the Record from his pocket 
and placed it upon the table. 

"This, sir," said he, "is an electrical 
device that records all important events. I 
wish to call your attention to a scene en- 
acted in Paris last evening which may have 
an effect upon the future history of your 
country." 

He opened the lid, placed the Record so 

139 



THE MAS TER KET 

that the President could see clearly, and 
then watched the changing expressions 
upon the great man's face; first indifference, 
then interest, the next moment eagerness 
and amazement. 

"Mon Dieul^'^ he gasped; '^ the Orlean- 
istsl" 

Rob nodded. 

'* Yes; they've worked up a rather pretty 
plot, haven't they?" 

The President did not reply. He was 
anxiously watching the Record and scrib- 
bling notes on a paper beside him. His 
face was pale and his lips tightly compressed. 

Finally he leaned back in his chair and 
asked : 

'^Can you reproduce this scene again?" 

^^Certainly, sir," answered the boy; ^'as 
often as you like." 

^'Will you remain here while I send for 
my minister of police? It will require but a 
short time." 

^^Call him up, then. I'm in something 

140 



Rob watched the changing express!' 



HOW ROB SA VED A REPUBLIC 

of a hurry myself, but now I've mixed up 
with this thing I'll see it through." 

The President touched a bell and gave an 
order to his servant. Then he turned to 
Rob and said, wonderingly: 

'^You are a boyl" 

^ ^That's true, Mr. President," was the 
answer; ^^but an American boy, you must 
remember. That makes a big difference, I 
assure you." 

The President bowed gravely. 

^^This is your invention?" he asked. 

''No; I'm hardly equal to that. But the 
inventor has made me a present of the Rec- 
ord, and it's the only one in the world." 

''It is a marvel," remarked the Presi- 
dent, thoughtfully. " More! It is a real 
miracle. We are living in an age of won- 
ders, my young friend." 

" No one knows that better than myself, 
sir," replied Rob. " But, tell me, can you 
trust your chief of police?" 

^' I think so," said the President, slowly; 

141 



/ 



THE MASTER KEY 



*^yet since your invention has shown me 
that many men I have considered honest 
are criminally implicated in this royalist 
plot, I hardly know whom to depend 
upon." 

'^ Then please wear these spectacles dur- 
ing your interview with the minister of po- 
lice," said the boy. '* You must say noth- 
ing, while he is with us, about certain marks 
that will appear upon his forehead; but 
when he has gone I will explain those 
marks so you will understand them." 

The President covered his eyes with the 
spectacles. 

'^ Why," he exclaimed, *^ I see upon 
your own brow the letters — " 

*^ Stop, sir 1" interrupted Rob, with a 
blush; '' I don't care to know what the let- 
ters are, if it's just the same to you." 

The President seemed puzzled by this 
speech, but fortunately the minister of police 
arrived just then and, under Rob's guid- 
ance, the pictured record of the Orleanist 

142 



HOW ROB SAVED A REPUBLIC 

plot was reproduced before the startled eyes 
of the official. 

''And now," said the boy, '' let us see if 
any of this foolishness is going on just at 
present." 

He turned to the opposite side of the 

Record and alloWea the President and his 
minister of police to witness the quick suc- 
cession of events even as they occurred. 

Suddenly the minister cried, '' Ha!" and, 
pointing to the figure of a man disembark- 
ing from an English boat at Calais, he said, 
excitedly : 

'' That, your Excellency, is the Duke of 
Orleans, in disguise! I must leave you for 
a time, that I may issue some necessary or- 
ders to my men; but this evening I shall 
call to confer with you regarding the best 
mode of suppressing this terrible plot." 

When the official had departed, the Presi- 
dent removed the spectacles from his eyes 
and handed them to Rob. 

'' What did you see ?" asked the boy. 

143 



THE MASTER KET 



'^ The letters ^G' and 'W\'' 

^^Then you may trust him fully," de- 
clared Rob, and explained the construction 
of the Character Marker to the interested 
and amazed statesman. 

^^And now I must go," he continued, 
^* for my stay in your city will be a short 
one and I want to see all I can." 

The President scrawled something on a 
sheet of paper and signed his name to it, 
afterward presenting it, with a courteous 
bow, to his visitor. 

^' This will enable you to go wherever 
you please, while in Paris," he said. ^'I 
regret my inability to reward you properly 
for the great service you have rendered my 
country; but you have my sincerest grati- 
tude, and may command me in any way." 

^' Oh, that's all right," answered Rob. 
*^ I thought it was my duty to warn you, 
and if you look sharp you'll be able to 
break up this conspiracy. But I don't w^nt 
finy reward. Good day, sir," 

144 



HOW ROB SAVED A REPUBLIC 

He turned the indicator of his traveling 
machine and immediately rose into the air, 
followed by a startled exclamation from the 
President of France. 

Moving leisurely over the city, he selected 
a deserted thoroughfare to alight in, from 
whence he wandered unobserved into the 
beautiful boulevards. These were now 
brilliantly lighted, and crowds of pleas- 
ure seekers thronged them everywhere. 
Rob experienced a decided sense of relief 
as he mixed with the gay populace and en- 
joyed the sights of the Splendid city, for it 
enabled him to forget, for a time, the re- 
sponsibilities thrust upon him by the posses- 
sion of the Demon's marvelous electrical 
devices. 




145 



3 




CHAPTER THIRTEEN 



ROB LOSES HIS TREASURES 

OUR young adventurer had intended 
to pass the night in the little bed at 
his hotel, but the atmosphere of Paris 
proved so hot and disagreeable that he de- 
cided it would be more enjoyable to sleep 
while journeying through the cooler air 
that lay far above the earth^'s surface. So 
just as the clocks were striking the midnight 
hour Rob mounted skyward and turned the 
indicator of the traveling machine to the 
east, intending to make the cit}^ of Vienna 
his next stop. 

He had risen to a considerable distance, 

146 



ROB LOSES HIS TREASURES 

where the air was remarkably fresh and ex- 
hilarating, and the relief he experienced 
from the close and muggy streets of Paris 
was of such a soothing nature that he pres- 
ently fell fast asleep. His day in the me- 
tropolis had been a busy one, for, like all 
boys, he had forgotten himself in the de- 
light of sight-seeing and had tired his mus- 
cles and exhausted his strength to an un- 
usual degree. 

It was about three o'clock in the morning 
when Rob, moving restlessly in his sleep, 
accidently touched with his right hand the 
indicator of the machine which was fastened 
to his left wrist, setting it a couple of points 
to the south of east. He was, of course, 
unaware of the slight alteration in his 
course, which was destined to prove of 
serious importance in the near future. For 
the boy's fatigue induced him to sleep far 
beyond daybreak, and during this period of 
unconsciousness he was passing over the 
face of European countries and approaching 

147 



THE MASTER KEY 

sandy plain. Being too high to see the 
surface of the plain distinctly he dropped 
down a few hundred feet to a lower level, 
where he discovered he was surrounded by 
billows of sand as far as his eye could reach. 

^^It's a desert, all right," was his com- 
ment; '' perhaps old Sahara herself." 

He started the machine again towards the 
east, and at a more moderate rate of speed 
skimmed over the surface of the desert. 
Before long he noticed a dark spot ahead of 
him which proved to be a large body of 
fierce looking men, riding upon drome- 
daries and slender, spirited horses and 
armed with long rifles and crookedly shaped 
simitars. 

'^ Those fellows seem to be looking for 
trouble," remarked the boy, as he glided 
over them, **and it wouldn't be exactly 
healthy for an enemy to get in their way. 
But I haven't time to stop, so Pm not 
likely to get mixed up in any rumpus with 
them." 

ISO 



1 to be looking for trouble " 



THE MASTER KEY 



the lawless and dangerous dominions of the 
Orient. 

When, at last, he opened his eyes, he 
was puzzled to determine where he was. 
Beneath him stretched a vast, sandy plain, 
and speeding across this he came to a land 
abounding in luxuriant vegetation. 

The centrifugal force which propelled 
him was evidently, for some reason, greatly 
accelerated, for the scenery of the countrj'^ 
he was crossing glided by him at so rapid a 
rate of speed that it nearly took his breath 
away. 

^' I wonder if I've passed Vienna in the 
night," he thought. ^^ It ought not to 
have taken me more than a few hours to 
reach there from Paris." 

Vienna was at that moment fifteen hun- 
dred miles behind him; but Rob's geogra- 
phy had always been his stumbling block 
at school, and he had not learned to gage 
the speed, of the traveling machine; so he 



148 



ROB LOSES HIS TREASURES 

was completely mystified as to his where- 
abouts. 

Presently a village having many queer 
spires and minarets whisked by him like a 
flash. Rob became worried, and resolved 
to slow up at the next sign of habitation. 

This was a good resolution, but Turke- 
stan is so thinly settled that before the boy 
could plan out a course of action he had 
passed the barren mountain range of Thian- 
Shan as nimbly as an acrobat leaps a jump- 
ing-bar. 

'^ This won't do at all!" he exclaimed, 
earnestly. *^ The traveling machine seems 
to be running away with me, and Pm miss- 
ing no end of sights by scooting along up 
here in the clouds." 

He turned the indicator to zero, and was 
relieved to find it obey with customary 
quickness. In a few moments he had 
slowed up and stopped, when he found 
himself suspended above another stretch of 



149 



THE MASTER KET 

stretched the vast plain of white, heated 
sands. He strained his eyes to catch a 
glimpse of the band of warriors he had 
passed, but they were moving slowly and 
had not yet appeared. 

The trees that sheltered Rob were the 
only ones without the city, although many 
low bushes or shrubs grew scattering over 
the space between hint and the walls. An 
arched gateway broke the enclosure at his 
left, but the gates wer^ tightly shut. 

Something in the stillness and the in- 
tense heat of the mid-day sun made the 
boy drowsy. He stretched himself upon 
the ground beneath the dense foliage of the 
biggest tree and abandoned himself to the 
languor that was creeping over him. 

*' I'll wait until that army of the desert 
arrives," he thought, sleepily. ^^ They 
either belong in this city or have come to 
capture it, so I can tell better what to dance 
when I find out what the band plays." 

The next moment he was sound asleep, 

152 



ROB LOSES HIS TREASURES 

sprawling upon his back in the shade and 
slumbering as peacefully as an infant. 

And while he lay motionless three men 
dropped in quick succession from the top of 
the city wall and hid among the low bushes, 
crawling noiselessly from one to another 
and so approaching, by degrees, the little 
group of trees. 

They were Turks, and had been sent by 
those in authority within the city to climb 
the tallest tree of the group and discover if 
the enemy was near. For Rob's conjecture 
had been correct, and the city of Yarkand 
awaited, with more or less anxiety, a threat- 
ened assault from its hereditary enemies, 
the Tatars. 

The three spies were not less forbidding 
in appearance than the horde of warriors 
Rob had passed upon the desert. Their 
features were coarse and swarthy, and their 
eyes had a most villainous glare. Old fash- 
ioned pistols and double-edged daggers 
were stuck in their belts and their clothing, 

153 



THE MA S TER KET 



though of gorgeous colors, was soiled and 
neglected. 

With all the caution of the American 
savage these Turks approached the tree, 
where, to their unbounded amazement, 
they saw the boy lying asleep. His dress 
and fairness of skin at once proclaimed him, 
in their shrewd eyes, a European, and their 
first thought was to glance around in search 
of his horse or dromedar}\ Seeing noth- 
ing of the kind near they were much puz- 
zled to account for his presence, and stood 
looking down at him with evident curiosity. 

The sun struck the polished surface of 
the traveling machine which was attached 
to Rob's wrist and made the metal glitter 
like silver. This attracted the eyes of the 
tallest Turk, who stooped down and stealth- 
ily unclasped the band of the machine from 
the boy's outstretched arm. Then, after a 
hurried but puzzled examination of the little 
instrument, he slipped it into the pocket of 
his jacket. 

154 



ROB LOSES HIS TREASURES 

Rob stirred uneasily in his sleep, and one 
of the Turks drew a slight but stout rope 
from his breast and with gentle but deft 
movement passed it around the boy's wrists 
and drew them together behind him. The 
action was not swift enough to arouse the 
power of repulsion in the Garment of Pro- 
tection, but it awakened Rob effectually, so 
that he sat up and stared hard at -his cap- 
tors. 

^^ What are you trying to do, anyhow?" 
he demanded. 

The Turks laughed and said something 
in their own language. They had no 
knowledge of English. 

^^ You're only making fools of your- 
selves," continued the boy, wrathfully. 
^' It's impossible for you to injure me." 

The three paid no attention to his words. 
One of them thrust his hand into Rob's 
pocket and drew out the electric tube. His 
ignorance of modern appliances was so great 
that he did not know enough to push the 

155 



THE MASTER KET 



button. Rob saw him looking down the 
hollow end of the tube and murmured: 

'^ I wish it would blow your ugly head 
off!" 

But the fellow, thinking the shining metal 
might be of some value to him, put the tube 
in his own pocket and then took from the 
prisoner the silver box of tablets. 

Rob writhed and groaned at losing his 
possessions in this way, and while his hands 
were fastened behind him tried to feel for 
and touch the indicator of the traveling ma- 
chine. When he found that the machine 
also had been taken, his anger gave way to 
fear, for he realized he was in a dangerously 
helpless condition. 

The third Turk now drew the Record of 
Events from the boy's inner pocket. He 
knew nothing of the springs that opened 
the lids, so, after a curious glance at it, he 
secreted the box in the folds of his sash and 
continued the search of the captive. The 
Character Marking Spectacles were next ab- 

156 



ROB LOSES HIS TREASURES 

sttacted, but the Turk, seeing in them noth- 
ing but spectacles, scornfully thrust them 
back into Rob's pocket, while his comrades 
laughed at him. The boy was now rifled 
of seventeen cents in pennies, a broken 
pocket knife and a lead-pencil, the last arti- 
cle seeming to be highly prized. 

After they had secured all the booty they 
could find, the tall Turk, who seemed the 
leader of the three, violently kicked at 
the prisoner with his heavy boot. His sur- 
prise was great when the Garment of Re- 
pu^lsion arrested the blow and nearly over- 
threw the aggressor in turn. Snatching a 
dagger from his sash, he bounded upon the 
boy so fiercely that the next instant the en- 
raged Turk found himself lying upon his 
back three yards away, while his dagger 
flew through the air and landed deep in the 
desert sands. 

'' Keep it up 1" cried Rob, bitterly. '' I 
hope you'll enjoy yourself." 

The other Turks raised their comrade to 

157 



THE MA S TER KET 

his feet, and the three stared at one another 
in surprise, being unable to understand how 
a bound prisoner could so effectually defend 
himself. But at a whispered word from 
the leader, they drew their long pistols and 
fired point blank into Rob's face. The vol- 
ley echoed sharply from the city walls, but 
as the smoke drifted slowly away the Turks 
were horrified to see their intended victim 
laughing at them. 

Uttering cries of terror and dismay, the 
three took to their heels and bounded to- 
wards the wall, where a gate quickly opened 
to receive them, the populace feeling sure 
the Tatar horde was upon them. 

Nor was this guess so very far wrong; 
for as Rob, sitting disconsolate upon the 
sand, raised his eyes, he saw across the 
desert a dark line that marked the approach 
of the invaders. 

Nearer and nearer they came, while Rob 
watched them and bemoaned the foolish 
impulse that had led him to fall asleep in an 

158 



t terror and disinay, the three Turks 
took to their heels 



i 



i 

I 

J 



i 



I 






ROB LOSES HIS TREASURES 



unknown land where he could so easily be 
overpowered and robbed of his treasures. 

" I always suspected these electrical in- 
ventions would be my ruin some day," he 
reflected, sadly; " and now I'm side-tracked 
and left helpless in this outlandish country, 
without a single hope of ever getting home 
again. They probably won't be able to 
kill me, unless they find my Garment of 
Repulsion and strip that off; but I never 
could cross this terrible desert on foot and, 
having lost my food tablets, I'd soon starve 
if I attempted it." 

Fortunately, he had eaten one of the tab- 
lets just before going to sleep, so there was 
no danger of immediate starvation. But 
he was miserable and unhappy, and re- 
mained brooding over his cruel fate until a 
sudden shout caused him to look up. 





CHAPTER FOURTEEN 



TURK AND TATAR 



THE Tatars had arrived, swiftly and 
noiselessly, and a dozen of the war- 
riors, still mounted, were surrounding him. 
His helpless condition aroused their curi- 
osity, and while some of them hastily cut 
away his bonds and raised him to his feet, 
others plied him with questions in their own 
language. Rob shook his head to indicate 
that he could not understand; so they led 
him to the chief — an immense, bearded rep- 
resentative of the tribe of Kara-Khitai, the 
terrible and relentless Black Tatars of 
Thibet. The huge frame of this fellow was 

1 60 



TURK A ND TA TA R 

clothed in flowing robes of cloth-of-gold, 
braided with jewels, and he sat majestically 
upon the back of a jet-black camel • 

Under ordinary circumstances the stern 
features and flashing black eyes of this re- 
doubtable warrior would have struck a chill 
of fear to the boy's heart; but now under 
the influence of the crushing misfortunes he 
had experienced, he was able to gaze willi 
indifference upon the terrible visage of the 
desert chief. 

The Tatar seemed not to consider Rob 
an enemy. Instead, he looked upon him 
as an ally, since the Turks had bound and 
robbed him. 

Finding it impossible to converse with 
the chief, Rob took refuge in the sign lan- 
guage. He turned his pockets wrong side 
out, showed the red welts left upon his 
wrists by the tight cord, and then shook his 
fists angrily in the direction of the town. 

In return the Tatar nodded gravely and 
issued an order to his men. 

i6i 



THE MA S TER KET 



By this time the warriors were busily 
pitching tents before the walls of Yarkancl 
and making preparations for a formal siege. 
In obedience to the chieftain's orders, Rob 
was given a place within one of the tents 
nearest the wall and supplied with a brace 
of brass-mounted pistols and a dagger with 
a sharp, zigzag edge. These were evi- 
dently to assist the boy in fighting the 
Turks, and he was well pleased to have 
them. His spirits rose considerably when 
he found he had fallen among friends, al- 
though most of his new comrades had such 
evil faces that it was unnecessary to put on 
the Character Markers to judge their na- 
tures with a fair degree of accuracy. 

^' I can't be very particular about the com- 
pany I keep," he thought, '^ and this gang 
hasn't tried to murder me, as the rascally 
Turks did. So for the present I'll stand 
in with the scowling chief and try to get a 
shot at the thieves who robbed me. If our 
side wins I may get a chance to recover 



TURK AND TA TAR 

some of my property. It's a slim chance, 
of course, but it's the only hope I have 
left." 

That very evening an opportunity oc- 
curred for Rob to win glory in the eyes of 
his new friends. Just before sundown the 
gates of the city flew open and a swarm of 
Turks, mounted upon fleet horses and 
camels, issued forth and fell upon their en- 
emies. The Tatars, who did not expect 
the sally, were scarcely able to form an op- 
posing rank when they found themselves 
engaged in a hand-to-hand conflict, fight- 
ing desperately for their lives. In such a 
battle, however, the Turks were at a disad- 
vantage, for the active Tatars slipped be- 
neath their horses and disabled them, bring- 
ing both the animals and their riders to the 
earth. 

At the first onslaught Rob shot his pistol 
at a Turk and wounded him so severely 
that he fell from his horse. Instantly the 
boy seized the bridle and sprang upon the 

163 



THE MASTER KET 



steed's back, and the next moment he had 
dashed into the thickest part of the fray. 
Bullets and blows rained upon him from all 
sides, but the Garment of Repulsion saved 
him from a single scratch. 

When his pistols had been discharged 
he caught up the broken handle of a spear, 
and used it as a club, galloping into the 
ranks of the Turks and belaboring them as 
hard as he could. The Tatars cheered 
and followed him, and the Turks were so 
amazed at his miraculous escape from their 
bullets that they became terrified, thinking 
he bore a charmed life and was protected 
by unseen powers. 

This terror helped turn the tide of battle, 
and before long the enemy was pressed 
back to the walls and retreated through the 
gates, which were hastily fastened behind 
them. 

In order to prevent a repetition of this 
sally the Tatars at once invested the gates, 
so that if the Turks should open them they 

164 



TURK A ND TA TA R 

were as likely to let their foes in as to op- 
pose them. 

While the tents were being moved up 
Rob had an opportunity to search the bat- 
tlefield for the bodies of the three Turks 
who had robbed him, but they were not 
among the fallen. 

" Those fellows were too cowardly to 
take part in a fair fight," declared the boy; 
but he was much disappointed, neverthe- 
less, as he felt very helpless without the 
electric tube or the traveling machine. 

The Tatar chief now called Rob to his 
tent and presented him with a beautiful 
ring set with a glowing pigeon's-blood ruby, 
in acknowledgment of his services. This 
gift made the boy feel very proud, and he 
said to the chief: 

" You're all right, old man, even if you 
do look like a pirate. If you can manage 
to capture that city, so I can get my electri- 
cal devices back, I'll consider you a trump 
as long as I live." 

i6s 



THE MA S TER KEY 



The chief thought this speech was in- 
tended to express Rob's gratitude, so he 
bowed solemnly in return. 

During the night that followed upon the 
first engagement of the Turks and Tatars, 
the boy lay awake trying to devise some 
plan to capture the city. The walls seemed 
too high and thick to be either scaled or 
broken by the Tatars, who had no artillery- 
whatever; and within the walls lay all the 
fertile part of the oasis, giving the besieged 
a good supply of water and provisions, 
while the besiegers were obliged to subsist 
on what water and food they had brought 
with them. 

Just before dawn Rob left his tent and 
went out to look at the great wall. The 
stars gave plenty of light, but the boy was 
worried to find that, according to Eastern 
custom, no sentries or guards whatever had 
been posted and all the Tatars were slumber- 
ing soundly. 

The city was likewise wrapped in pro- 

i66 



TURK AND TA TAR 

found silence, but just as Rob was turning 
away he saw a head project stealthily over 
the edge of the wall before him, and recog- 
nized in the features one of the Turks who 
had robbed him. 

Finding no one awake except the boy 
the fellow sat upon the edge of the wall, 
with his feet dangling downward, and 
grinned wickedly at his former victim. Rob 
watched him with almost breathless eager- 
ness. 

After making many motions that con- 
veyed no meaning whatever, the Turk drew 
the electric tube from his pocket and pointed 
his finger first at the boy and then at the 
instrument, as if inquiring what it was 
used for. Rob shook his head. The 
Turk turned the tube over several times 
and examined it carefully, after which he 
also shook his head, seeming greatly puz- 
zled. 

By this time the boy was fairly trembling 
with excitement. He longed to recover this 

167 



THE MASTER KEY 

valuable weapon, and feared that at any 
moment the curious Turk would discover its 
use. He held out his hand toward the tube, 
and tried to say, by motions, that he would 
show, the fellow how to use it. The man 
seemed to understand, but he would not let 
the glittering instrument out of his posses- 
sion. 

Rob was almost in despair, when he hap- 
pened to notice upon his hand the ruby ring 
given him by the chief. Drawing the jewel 
from his finger he made offer, by signs, that 
he would exchange it for the tube. 

The Turk was much pleased with the 
idea, and nodded his head repeatedly, hold- 
ing out his hand for the ring. Rob had lit- 
tle confidence in the man's honor, but he 
was so eager to regain the tube that he de- 
cided to trust him. So he threw the ring to 
the top of the wall, where the Turk caught 
it skilfully; but when Rob held out his hand 
for the tube the scoundrel only laughed at 
him and began to scramble to his feet in or- 

i68 



TURK A ND TA TA R 

der to beat a retreat. Chance, however, 
foiled this disgraceful treachery, for in his 
hurry the Turk allowed the tube to slip from 
his grasp, and it rolled off the wall and fell 
upon the sand at Rob's very feet. 

The robber turned to watch its fall and, 
filled with sudden anger, the boy grabbed 
the weapon, pointed it at his enemy, and 
pressed the button. Down tumbled the 
Turk, without a cry, and lay motionless at 
the foot of the wall. 

Rob's first thought was to search the 
pockets of his captive, and to his delight 
he ioww ,nd recovered his box of food tab- 
lets. The Record of Events and the travel- 
ing machine were doubtless in the possession 
of the other robbers, but Rob did not despair 
of recovering them, now that he had the 
tube to aid him. 

Day was now breaking, and several of the 
Tatars appeared and examined the body of 
the Turk with grunts of surprise, for there 
was no mark upon him to show how he had 

169 



THE MA S TER KE T 



been slain. Supposing him to be dead, they 
tossed him aside and forgot all about him. 

Rob had secured his ruby ring again, and 
going to the chief's tent he showed the jewel 
to the guard and was at once admitted. The 
black-bearded chieftain was still reclining 
upon his pillows, but Rob bowed before 
him, and by means of signs managed to ask 
for a band of warriors to assist him in as- 
saulting the town. The chieftain appeared 
to doubt the wisdom of the enterprise, not 
being able to understand how the boy could 
expect to succeed; but he graciously issued 
the required order, and by the time Rob 
reached the city gate he found a large 
group of Tatars gathered to support him, 
while the entire camp, roused to interest in 
the proceedings, stood looking on. 

Rob cared little for the quarrel between 
the Turks and Tatars, and under ordinary 
circumstances would have refused to side 
with one or the other; but he knew he could 
not hope to recover his electrical machines 

170 



TURK A ND TA TA R 

unless the city was taken b}^ the band of war- 
riors who had befriended him, so he de- 
termined to force an entrance for them. 

Without hesitation he walked close to the 
great gate and shattered its fastenings with 
the force of the electric current directed 
upon them from the tube. Then, shouting 
to his friends the Tatars for assistance, they 
rushed in a body upon the gate and dashed 
it open. 

The Turks had expected trouble when 
they heard the fastenings of the huge gate 
splinter and fall apart, so they had assembled 
in force before the opening. As the Tatars 
poured through the gateway in a compact 
mass they were met by a hail of bullets, 
spears and arrows, which did fearful execu- 
tion among them. Many were killed out- 
right, while others fell wounded to be tram- 
pled upon by those who pressed on from 
the rear. 

Rob maintained his position in the front 
rank, but escaped all injury through the 

171 



THE MASTER KEY 

possession of the Garment of Repulsion, 
But he took an active part in the fight and 
pressed the button of the electric tube again 
and again, tumbling the enemy into heaps 
on every side, even the horses and camels 
falling helplessly before the resistless cur- 
rent of electricity. 

The Tatars shouted joyfully as they wit- 
nessed this marvelous feat and rushed for- 
ward to assist in the slaughter; but the boy 
motioned them all back. He did not wish 
any more bloodshed than was necessary, 
and knew that the heaps of unconscious 
Turks around him would soon recover. 

So he stood alone and faced the enemy, 
calmly knocking them over as fast as they 
came near. Two of the Turks managed to 
creep up behind the boy, and one of them, 
who wielded an immense simitar with a 
two-edged blade as sharp as a razor, swung 
the weapon fiercely to cut off Rob's head. 
But the repulsive force aroused in the Gar- 
ment was so terrific that it sent the weapon 

172 



TURK AND TATAR 

flying backwards with redoubled swiftness, 
so that it caught the second Turk at the 
waist and cut him fairly in two. 

Thereafter they all avoided coming near 
the boy, and in a surprisingly short time 
the Turkish forces were entirely conquered, 
all having been reduced to unconsciousness 
except a few cowards who had run away 
and hidden in the cellars or garrets of the 
houses. 

The Tatars entered the city with shouts 
of triumph, and the chief was so delighted 
that he threw his arms around Rob's neck 
and embraced him warmly. 

Then began the sack of Yarkand, the 
fierce Tatars plundering the bazaars and 
houses, stripping them of everything of 
value they could find. 

Rob searched anxiously among the bodies 
of the unconscious Turks for the two men 
who had robbed him, but neither could be 
found. He was more successful later, for 
in running through the streets he came upon 

173 



THE MASTER KET 



2l band of Tatars leading a man with a rope 
around his neck, whom Rob quickly recog- 
nized as one of the thieves he was hunt- 
ing for. The Tatars willingly allowed him 
to search the fellow, and in one of his pock- 
ets Rob found the Record of Events. 

He had now recovered all his property, 
except the traveling machine, the one thing 
that was absolutely necessary to enable him 
to escape from this barbarous country. 

He continued his search persistently, and 
an hour later found the dead body of the 
third robber lying in the square in the cen- 
ter of the city. But the traveling machine 
was not on his person, and for the first time \ 

the boy began to give way to despair. ' 

In the distance he heard loud shouts and { 

sound of renewed strife, warning him that ■ 

the Turks were recovering consciousness \ 

and engaging the Tatars with great fierce- I 

ness. The latter had scattered throughout 
the town, thinking themselves perfectly se- ' 

cure, so that not only were they unprepared 

174 



TURK AND TATAR 

to fight, but they became panic-stricken at 
seeing their foes return, as it seemed, from 
death to life. Their usual courage forsook 
them, and they ran, terrified, in every direc- 
tion, only to be cut down by the revengeful 
Turkish simitars. 

Rob was sitting upon the edge of a marble 
fountain in the center of the square when 
a crowd of victorious Turks appeared and 
quickly surrounded him. The boy paid no 
attention to their gestures and the Turks 
feared to approach him nearly, so they 
stood a short distance away and fired volleys 
at him from their rifles and pistols. 

Rob glared at them scornfully, and seeing 
they could not injure him the Turks desisted; 
but they still surrounded him, and the 
crowd grew thicker every moment. 

Women now came creeping from their 
hiding places and mingled with the ranks 
of the men, and Rob guessed, from their 
joyous chattering, that the Turks had re- 
gained the city and driven out or killed the 

I7S 



THE MASTER KEY 



Tatar warriors. He reflected, gloomily, 
that this did not affect his own position in 
any way, since he could not escape from 
the oasis. 

Suddenly, on glancing at the crowd, Rob 
saw something that arrested his attention. 
A young girl was fastening some article to 
the wrist of a burly, villainous-looking Turk. 
The boy saw a glitter that reminded him of 
the traveling machine, but immediately 
afterward the man and the girl bent their 
heads over the fellow's wrist in such a way 
that Rob could see nothing more. 

While the couple were apparently exam- 
ining the strange device, Rob started to his 
feet and walked toward them. The crowd 
fell back at his approach, but the man and 
the girl were so interested that they did not 
notice him. He was still several paces away 
when the girl put out her finger and touched 
the indicator on the dial. 

To Rob's horror and consternation the 



176 



rose ilowly into the air, with Rob clinging 
to him with desperate tenacity 



TURK AND TATAR 

big Turk began to rise slowly into the air, 
while a howl of fear burst from the crowd. 
But the boy made a mighty spring and 
caught the Turk by his foot, clinging to it 
with desperate tenacity, while they both 
mounted steadily upward until they were 
far above the city of the desert. 

The big Turk screamed pitifully at first, 
and then actually fainted away from fright. 
Rob was much frightened, on his part, for 
he knew if his hands slipped from their hold 
he would fall to his death. Indeed, one 
hand was slipping already, so he made a 
frantic clutch and caught firmly hold of the 
Turk's baggy trousers. Then, slowly and 
carefully, he drew himself up and seized the 
leather belt that encircled the man's waist. 
This firm grip gave him new confidence, 
and he began to breathe more freely. 

He now clung to the body of the Turk 
with both legs entwined, in the way he was 
accustomed to cling to a tree-trunk when 



177 



THE MA S TER KET 



he climbed after cherries at home. He had 
conquered his fear of falling, and took time 
to recover his wits and his strength. 

They had now reached such a tremendous 
height that the city looked like a speck on the 
desert beneath them. Knowing he must act 
quickly, Rob seized the dangling left arm 
of the unconscious Turk and raised it until 
he could reach the dial of the traveling 
machine. He feared to unclasp the machine 
just then, for two reasons: if it slipped from 
his grasp they would both plunge down- 
ward to their death; and he was not sure 
the machine would work at all if in any 
other position than fastened to the left wrist. 

Rob determined to take no chances, so 
he left the machine attached to the Turk 
and turned the indicator to zero and then 
to ''East," for he did not wish to rejoin 
either his enemies the Turks or his equally 
undesirable friends the Tatars. 

After traveling eastward a few minutes 



178 



TURK A ND TA TA R 

he lost sight of the city altogether; so, still 
clinging to the body of the Turk, he again 
turned the indicator and began to descend. 
When, at last, they landed gently upon a 
rocky eminence of the Kuen-Lun moun- 
tains, the boy's strength was almost ex- 
hausted, and his limbs ached with the strain 
of clinging to the Turk's body. 

His first act was to transfer the traveling 
machine to his own wrist and to see that 
his other electrical devices were safely be- 
stowed in his pockets. Then he sat upon 
the rock to rest until the Turk recovered 
consciousness. 

Presently the fellow moved uneasily, 
rolled over, and then sat up and stared at 
his surroundings. Perhaps he thought he 
had been .dreaming, for he rubbed his eyes 

♦ 

and looked again with mingled surprise 
and alarm. Then, seeing Rob, he uttered 
a savage shout and drew his dagger. 

Rob smiled and pointed the electric tube 



179 



THE MA S TER KEY 



at the man, who doubtless recognized its 
power, for he fell back scowling and trem- 
bling. 

" This place seems like a good jog from 
civilization," remarked the boy, as coolly 
as if his companion could understand what 
he said; *^but as your legs are long and 
strong you may be able to find your way. 
It's true you're liable to starve to death, 
but if you do it will be your own misfortune 
and not my fault." 

The Turk glared at him sullenly, but did 
not attempt to reply. 

Rob took out his box of tablets, ate one of 
them and offered another to his enemy. The 
fellow accepted it ungraciously enough, but 
seeing Rob eat one he decided to follow his 
example, and consumed the tablet with a 
queer expression of distrust upon his face. 

^^ Brave man!" cried Rob, laughingly; 
''you've avoided the pangs of starvation for 
a time, anyhow, so I can leave you with a 
clear conscience." 

1 80 



TURK A ND TA TA R 

Without more ado he turned the indicator 
of the traveling machine and mounted into 
the air, leaving the Turk sitting upon the 
rocks and staring after him in comical be- 
wilderment. 




CHAPTER FIFTEEN 



A BATTLE WITH MONSTERS 



OUR young adventurer never experi- 
enced a more grateful feeling of re- 
lief and security than when he found himself 
once more high in the air, alone, and in un- 
disputed possession of the electrical devices 
bestowed upon him by the Demon. 

The dangers he had passed through since 
landing at the city of the desert and the des- 
perate chance that alone had permitted him 
to regain the traveling machine made him 
shudder at the bare recollection and ren- 
dered him more sober and thoughtful than 
usual. 

182 



A BA TTLE WITH MONSTERS 

We who stick closely to the earth's sur- 
face can scarcely realize how Rob ceuld 
travel through the air at such dizzy heights 
without any fear or concern whatsoever. But 
he had come to consider the air a veritable 
refuge. Experience had given him implicit 
confidence in the powers of the electrical in- 
strument whose unseen forces carried him 
so swiftly and surely, and while the tiny, 
watch-like machine was clasped to his wrist 
he felt himself to be absolutely safe. 

Having slipped away from the Turk and 
attained a fair altitude, he set the indicator 
at zero and paused long enough to consult 
his map and decide what direction it was 
best for him to take. The mischance that 
had swept him unwittingly over the coun- 
tries of Europe had also carried him more 
than half way around the world from his 
home. Therefore the nearest way to reach 
America would be to continue traveling to 
the eastward. 

So much time had been consumed at the 

xS3 



THE MA S TER KB T 

desert oasis that he felt he must now hasten 
if he wished to reach home by Saturday 
afternoon; so, having quickly come to a 
decision, he turned the indicator and began 
a swift flight into the east. 

For several hours he traveled above the 
great desert of Gobi, but by noon signs of a 
more fertile country began to appear, and, 
dropping to a point nearer the earth, he 
was able to observe closely the country of 
the Chinese, with its crowded population 
and ancient but crude civilization. 

Then he came to the Great Wall of China 
and to might}^ Peking, above which he hov- 
ered some time, examining it curiously. He 
really longed to make a stop there, but with 
his late experiences fresh in his mind he 
thought it much safer to view the wonder- 
ful city from a distance. 

Resuming his flight he presently came to 
the gulf of Laou Tong, whose fair face was 
freckled with many ships of many nations, 



184 



/!' 






A BA TTLE WITH MONSTERS 

and so on to Korea, which seemed to him a 
land fully a century behind the times. 

Night overtook him while speeding across 
the Sea of Japan, and having a great desire 
to view the Mikado's famous islands, he put 
the indicator at zero, and, coming to a full 
stop, composed himself to sleep until morn- 
ing, that he might run no chances of being 
carried beyond his knowledge during the 
night. 

You might suppose it no easy task to 
sleep suspended in mid-air, yet the mag- 
netic currents controlled by the traveling 
machine were so evenly balanced that Rob 
was fully as comfortable as if reposing upon 
a bed of down. He had become somewhat 
accustomed to passing the night in the air 
and now slept remarkably well, having no 
fear of burglars or fire or other interrup- 
tions that dwellers in cities are subject to. 

One thing, however, he should have re- 
membered: that he was in an ancient and 



185 



THE MASTER KET 

little known part of the world and reposing 
above a sea famous in fable as the home of 
many fierce and terrible creatures; while 
not far away lay the land of the dragon, the 
simurg and other ferocious monsters. 

Rob ma)^ have read of these things in 
fair}' tales and books of travel, but if so they 
had entirely slipped his mind; so he slum- 
bered peacefully and actually snored a little, 
I believe, towards morning. 

But even as the red sun peeped curiously 
over the horizon he was awakened by a 
most unusual disturbance — a succession of 
hoarse screams and a pounding of the air 
as from the quickly revolving blades of 
some huge windmill. 

He rubbed his eyes and looked around. 

Coming towards him at his right hand was 
an immense bird, whose body seemed al- 
most as big as that of a horse. Its wide- 
open, curving beak was set with rows of 
pointed teeth, and the talons held against 
its breast and turned threateningly outward 

1 86 



A BA TtLE WITH MONSTERS 

were more powerful and dreadful than a 
tiger's claws. 

While, fascinated and horrified, he watched 
the approach of this feathered monster, a 
scream sounded just behind him and the 
next instant the stroke of a mighty wing 
sent him whirling over and over through 
the air. 

He soon came to a stop, however, and 
saw that another of the monsters had come 
upon him from the rear and was now, with 
its mate, circling closely around him, while 
both uttered continuously their hoarse, sav- 
age cries. 

Rob wondered why the Garment of Re- 
pulsion had not protected him from the 
blow of the bird's wing; but, as a matter of 
fact, it had protected him. For it was not 
the wing itself but the force of the eddying 
currents of air that had sent him whirling 
away from the monster. With the indi- 
cator at zero the magnetic currents and the 
opposing powers of attraction and repulsion 

187 



THE MASTER KEY 



were so evenly balanced that any violent at- 
mospheric disturbance affected him in the 
same way that thistledown is affected by a 
summer breeze. He had noticed some- 
thing of this before, but whenever a strong 
wind was blowing he was accustomed to 
rise to a position above the air currents. 
This was the first time he had slept with the 
indicator at zero. 

The huge birds at once renewed their at- 
tack, but Rob had now recovered his wits 
sufficiently to draw the electric tube from 
his pocket. The first one to dart towards 
him received the powerful electric current 
direct from the tube, and fell stunned and 
fluttering to the surface of the sea, where 
it floated motionless. Its mate, perhaps 
warned by this sudden disaster, renewed its 
circling flight, moving so swiftly that Rob 
could scarcely follow it, and drawing nearer 
and nearer every moment to its intended 
victim. The boy could not turn in the air 



i88 



A BA TTLE WITH MONSTERS 

very quickly, and he feared an attack in the 
back, mistrusting the saving power of the 
Garment of Repulsion under such circum- 
stances; so in desperation he pressed his 
finger upon the button of the tube and 
whirled the instrument around his head in 
the opposite direction to that in which the 
monster was circling. Presently the cur- 
rent and the bird met, and with one last 
scream the creature tumbled downwards to 
join its fellow upon the waves, where the}^ 
lay like two floating islands. 

Their presence had left a rank, sickening 
stench in the surrounding atmosphere, so 
Rob made haste to resume his journey and 
was soon moving rapidly eastward. 

He could not control a shudder at the rec- 
ollection of his recent combat, and realized 
the horror of a meeting with such creatures 
by one who had no protection from their 
sharp beaks and talons. 

^^ It's no wonder the Japs draw ugly 



189 



THE MASTER KEY 



pictures of those monsters," he thought. 
'' People who live in these parts must pass 
most of their lives in a tremble." 

The sun was now shining brilliantly, and 
when the beautiful islands of Japan came 
in sight Rob found that he had recovered 
his wonted cheerfulness. He moved along 
slowly, hovering with curious interest over 
the quaint and picturesque villages and 
watching the industrious Japanese patiently 
toiling at their tasks. Just before he reached 
Tokio he came to a military fort, and for 
nearly an hour watched the skilful maneu- 
vers of a regiment of soldiers at their morn- 
ing drill. They were not ver}^ big people, 
compared with other nations, but they 
seemed alert and well trained, and the boy 
decided it would require a brave enemy to 
face them on a field of battle. 

Having at length satisfied his curiosity as 
to Japanese life and customs Rob prepared 
for his long flight across the Pacific Ocean. 

By consulting his map he discovered that 

190 



A BATTLE WITH MONSTERS 

should he maintain his course due east, as 
before, he would arrive at a point in Amer- 
ica ver}' near to San Francisco, which 
suited his plans excellently. 

Having found that he moved more swiftly 
when farthest from the earth's surface, be- 
cause the air was more rarefied and offered 
less resistance, Rob mounted upwards until 
the islands of Japan were mere specks visi- 
ble through the clear, sunny atmosphere. 

Then he began his eastward flight, the 
broad surface of the Pacific seeming like a 
blue cloud far beneath him. 




CHAPTER SIXTEEN 

SHIPWRECKED MARINERS 

AMPLE proof of Rob's careless and 
restless nature having been frankij^ 
placed before the reader in these pages, you 
will doubtless be surprised when I relate 
that during the next few hours our young 
gentleman suffered from a severe attack of 
homesickness, becoming as gloomy and un- 
happy in its duration as ever a homesick 
boy could be. 

It may have been because he was just 
then cut off from all his fellow-creatures 
and even from the world itself; it may have 
been because he was satiated with marvels 



192 



SHIPWRECKED MARINERS 

and with the almost absolute control over 
the powers which the Demon had conferred 
upon him; or it may have been because 
he was born and reared a hearty, healthy 
American boy, with a disposition to battle 
openly with the world and take his chances 
equally with his fellows, rather than be 
placed in such an exclusive position that no 
one could hope successfully to oppose him. 

Perhaps he himself did not know what 
gave him this horrible attack of "the blues," 
but the truth is he took out his handkerchief 
and cried like a baby from very loneliness 
and misery. 

There was no one to see him, thank 
goodness 1 and the tears gave him consider- 
able relief. He dried his eyes, made an 
honest struggle to regain his cheerfulness, 
and then muttered to himself: 

"If I stay up here, like an air-bubble in 
the sky, I shall certainly go crazy. I sup- 
pose there's nothing but water to look at 



193 



THE MASTER KEY 

down below, but if I could only sight a ship, 
or even see a fish jump, it would do me no 
end of good." 

Theicupon he descended until, as the 
ocean's surface came nearer and nearer, he 
discovered a tiny island lying almost directly 
underneath him. It was hardly big enough 
to make a dot on the biggest map, but a 
clump of trees grew in the central portion, 
while around the edges were jagged rocks 
protecting a sandy beach and a stretch of 
flower-strewn upland leading to the trees. 

It looked very beautiful from Rob's ele- 
vated position, and his spirits brightened at 
once. 

^^PU drop down and pick a bouquet," 
he exclaimed, and a few moments later his 
feet touched the firm earth of the island. 

But before he could gather a dozen of the 
brilliant flowers a glad shout reached his 
ears, and, looking up, he saw two men run- 
ning towards him from the trees. 

They were dressed in sailor fashion, but 

194 



SHIPWRECKED MAR TIMERS 

■■ ■ ■■ I I ■! I III ■ I ■ ■ ^^^— ^^^^^^M^^^^— ■ I ^^ 

their clothing was reduced to rags and 
scarcely clung to their brown, skinny bod- 
ies. As they advanced they waved their 
arms wildly in the air and cried in joyful 
tones: 

^^Aboatl a boat 1'' 

Rob stared at them wonderingly, and had 
much ado to prevent the poor fellows from 
hugging him outright, so great was their joy 
at his appearance. One of them rolled upon 
the ground, laughing and crying by turns, 
while the other danced and cut capers until 
he became so exhausted that he sank down 
breathless beside his comrade. 

" How came you here? '' then inquired 
the boy, in pitying tones. 

"We're shipwrecked American sailors 
from the bark ' Cynthia Jane,' which went 
down near here over a month ago," an- 
swered the smallest and thinnest of the two. 
'' We escaped by clinging to a bit of wreck- 
age and floated to this island, where we 
have nearly starved to death. Indeed, we 

195 



THE MASTER KEY 



now have eaten everj'thing on the island 
that was eatable, and had your boat arrived 
a few days later you'd have found us lying 
dead upon the beach! " 

Rob listened to this sad tale with real 
sympathy. 

'^ But I didn't come here in a boat," said 
he. 

The men sprang to their feet with white, 
scared faces. 

'^ No boat!" they cried; ^^ are you, too, 
shipwrecked?" 

*^ No;" he answered. ^*I flew here 
through the air." And then he explained 
to them the wonderful electric traveling 
machine. 

But the sailors had no interest whatever 
in the relation. Their disappointment was 
something awful to witness, and one of 
them laid his head upon his comrade's 
shoulder and wept with unrestrained grief, 
so weak and discouraged had they become 
through suffering. 

196 



The disappointment of the sailors 
awful to witness 



SHIPWRECKED MARrjsTERS 

Suddenly Rob remembered that he could 
assist them, and took the box of concen- 
trated food tablets from his pocket. 

''Eat these," he said, offering one to 
each of the sailors. 

At first they could not understand that 
these small tablets would be able to allay 
the pangs of hunger; but when Rob ex- 
plained their virtues the men ate them 
greedily. Within a few moments they were 
so greatly restored to strength and courage 
that their eyes brightened, their sunken 
cheeks flushed, and they were able to con- 
verse with their benefactor with calmness 
and intelligence. 

Then the boy sat beside them upon the 
grass and told them the story of his ac- 
quaintance with the Demon and of all his 
adventures since he had come into posses- 
sion of the wonderful electric contrivances. 
In his present mood he felt it would be a 
relief to confide in some one, and so these 



197 



THE MASTER KEY 

poor, lonely men were the first to hear his 
story. 

When he related the manner in which 
he had clung to the Turk while both as- 
cended into the air, the elder of the two 
sailors listened with rapt attention, and 
then, after some thought, asked: 

^^ Why couldn't you carry one or both 
of us to America?" 

Rob took time seriously to consider this 
idea, while the sailors eyed him with eager 
interest. Finally he said: 

^^ Pm afraid I couldn't support your 
weight long enough to reach any other land. 
It's a long journey, and you'd pull my 
arms out of joint before we'd been up an 
hour." 

Their faces fell at this, but one of them 
said: 

'' Why couldn't we swing ourselves over 
your shoulders with a rope? Our two 
bodies would balance each other and we 



198 



SHIPWRECKED MARINERS 

are so thin and emaciated that we do not 
weigh very much." 

While considering this suggestion Rob 
remembered how at one time five pirates 
had clung to his left leg and been carried 
some distance through the air. 

^^ Have 5^ou a rope ?" he asked. 

^^ No," was the answer; ^* but there are 
plenty of long, tough vines growing on the 
island that are just as strong and pliable as 
ropes." 

^^Then, if you are willing to run the 
chances," decided the boy, ^' I will make 
the attempt to save you. But I must warn 
you that in case I find I can not support the 
weight of your bodies I shall drop one or 
both of you into the sea." 

They looked grave at this prospect, but 
the biggest one said : 

^'We would soon meet death from star\^a- 
tion if you left us here on the island; so, as 
there is at least a chance of our being able 



199 



THE Af ASTER KEY 

to escape in your company I, for one, am 
willing to risk being drowned. It is easier 
and quicker than being starved. And, as 
I'm the heavier, I suppose you'll drop me 
first." 

"Certainly," declared Rob, promptly. 

This announcement seemed to be an en- 
couragement to the little sailor, but he said, 
nervously : 

" I hope you'll keep near the water, for 
I haven't a good head for heights — 'they 
always make me dizzy." 

"Oh, if you don't want to go," began 
Rob, " I can easily " 

" But I do! I dol I do! " cried the little 
man, interrupting him. " I shall die if you 
leave me behind! " 

"Well, then, get your ropes, and we'll 
do the best we can," said the boy. 

They ran to the trees, around the trunks 
of which were clinging many tendrils of 
greenish-brown vine which possessed re- 



200 






SHIPWRECKED MARLVERS; 

markable strength. With their knives they 
cut a long section of this vine, the ends of 
which were then tied into loops large enough 
to permit the sailors to sit in them comfort- 
ably. The connecting piece Rob padded 
with seaweed gathered from the shore, to 
prevent its cutting into his shoulders. 

^^Now, then," he said, when all was 
ready, ^^take your places." 

The sailors squatted in the loops, and Rob 
swung the vine over his shoulders and turned 
the indicator of the traveling machine to 
^^up." 

As they slowly mounted into the sky the 
little sailor gave a squeal of terror and clung 
to the boy's arm; but the other, although 
seemingly anxious, sat quietly in his place 
and made no trouble. 

" D — d — don't g — g — go so high ! " 
stammered the little one, tremblingly; ^ ^sup- 
pose we should f^— f — fall! " 

^^Well, s'pose we should?" answered 



20I 



THE MASTER KEY 

Rob, gruffly. "You couldn't drown until 
you struck the water, so the higher we are 
the longer you'll live in case of accident." 

This phase of the question seemed to com- 
fort the frightened fellow somewhat ; but, as 
he said, he had not a good head for heights, 
and so continued to tremble in spite of his 
resolve to be brave. 

The weight on Rob's shoulders was not 
so great as he had feared, the traveling 
machine seeming to give a certain lightness 
and buoyancy to everything that came into 
contact with its wearer. 

As soon as he had reached a sufficient 
elevation to admit of good speed he turned 
the indicator once more to the east and be- 
gan moving rapidly through the air, the 
shipwrecked sailors dangling at either side. 

"This is aw — aw — awfull" gasped the 
little one. 

" Say, you shut up !" commanded the 
boy, angrily. " If your friend was as big 
a coward as you are I'd drop you both this 

202 



SHIPWRECKED MARINERS 



minute. Let go my arm and keep quiet, 
if you want to reach land alive." 

The fellow whimpered a little, but man- 
aged to remain silent for several minutes. 
Then he gave a sudden twitch and grabbed 
Rob's arm again. 

*^ S'pose — s'pose the vine should break!" 
he moaned, a horrified look upon his face. 

'' I've had about enough of this," said 
Rob, savagely. ** If you haven't any sense 
you don't deserve to live." He turned the 
indicator on the dial of the machine and 
they began to descend rapidly. 

The little fellow screamed with fear, but 
Rob paid no attention to him until the feet 
of the two suspended sailors were actually 
dipping into the waves, when he brought 
their progress to an abrupt halt. 

'^ Wh — wh — what are you g — g — going 
to do ?" gurgled the cowardly sailor. 

^' I'm going to feed you to the sharks — 
unless you promise to keep your mouth 
3hut^" retorted the boy. '' Now, then; de^* 

203 



THE MASTER KEY 



cide at once! Which will it be — sharks or 
silence?" 

" I won't say a word — 'pon my honor, I 
won't!" said the sailor, shudderingly. 

"All right; remember your promise and 
we'll have no further trouble," remarked 
Rob, who had hard work to keep from 
laughing at the man's abject terror. 

Once more he ascended and continued 
the journey, and for several hours they rode 
along swiftly and silently. Rob's shoulders 
were beginning to ache with the continued 
tugging of the vine upon them, but the 
thought that he was saving the lives of 
two unfortunate fellow-creatures gave him 
strength and courage to persevere. 

Night was falling when they first sighted 
land; a wild and seemingly uninhabited 
stretch of the American coast. Rob made 
no effort to select a landing place, for he 
was nearly worn out with the strain and 
anxiety of the journey. He dropped his 
burden upon the brow of a high bluff over- 

204 



SHIPWRECKED MARINERS 

looking the sea and, casting the vine from 
his shoulders, fell to the earth exhausted 
and half fainting. 




CHAPTER SEVENTEEN 



THE COAST OF OREGON 



WHEN he had somewhat recovered, 
Rob sat up and looked around 
him. The elder sailor was kneeling in 
earnest prayer, offering grateful thanks for 
his escape from suffering and death. The 
younger one lay upon the ground sobbing 
and still violently agitated by recollections 
of the frightful experiences he had under- 
gone. Although he did not show his feel- 
ings as plainly as the men, the boy was none 
the less gratified at having been instrumental 
in saving the lives of two fellow-beings. 
The darkness was by this time rapidly 

206 



THE COAST OF OREGON" 

enveloping them, so Rob asked his com- 
panions to gather some brushwood and 
light a fire, which they quickly did. The 
evening was cool for the time of year, and 
the heat from the fire was cheering and 
grateful; so they all lay near the glowing 
embers and fell fast asleep. 

The sound of voices aroused Rob next 
morning, and on opening his eyes and gaz- 
ing around he saw several rudely dressed 
men approaching. The two shipwrecked 
sailors were still sound asleep. 

Rob stood up and waited for the strangers 
to draw near. They seemed to be fishermen, 
and were much surprised at finding three 
people asleep upon the bluff. 

'^Whar 'n thunder 'd ye come from?" 
asked the foremost fisherman, in a surprised 
voice. 

*^ From the sea," replied the boy. ^^My 
friends here are shipwrecked sailors from 
the ^Cynthia Jane.' " 

" But how'd ye make out to climb the 

207 



THE MA S TER KET 

bluff?'' inquired a second fisherman; '^ no 
one ever did it afore, as we knows on." 

'* Oh, that is a long story," replied the 
boy, evasively. 

The two sailors had awakened and now 
saluted the new-comers. Soon they were 
exchanging a running fire of questions and 
answers. 

*^ Where are we ?" Rob heard the little 
sailor ask. 

'* Coast of Oregon," was the reply. 
^^ We're about seven miles from Port Or- 
ford by land an' about ten miles by sea." 

^^ Do you live at Port Orford?" inquired 
the sailor. 

'^ That's what we do, friend; an' if your 
party wants to join us we'll do our best to 
make you comf'table, bein' as you're ship- 
wrecked an' need help." 

Just then a loud laugh came from an- 
other group, where the elder sailor had 
been trying to explain Rob's method of 
flying through the air. 

208 



( 
( 



THE COAST OF OREGON 

" Laugh all you want to," said the sailor, 
sullenly; " it's true — ev'ry word of it 1" 

" Mebbe you think it, friend," answered 
a big, good-natured fisherman; " but it's 
well known that shipwrecked folks go crazy 
sometimes, an' imagine strange things. 
Your mind seems clear enough in other 
ways, so I advise you to try and forget your 
dreams about flyin'." 

Rob now stepped forward and shook 
hands with the sailors. 

I see you have found friends," he said 
to them, ^^ so I will leave you and continue 
my journey, as I'm in something of a 
hurry." 

Both sailors began to thank him profusely 
for their rescue, but he cut them short. 

" That's all right. Of course I couldn't 
leave you on that island to starve to death, 
and I'm glad I was able to bring you away 
with me." 

" But you threatened to drop me into the 



209 



a 



THE MA S TER KET i 



sea," remarked the little sailor, in a grieved ' 

voice, ^ 

** So I did," said Rob, laughing; *^but j 

I wouldn't have done it for the world — not j 

even to have saved my own life. Good- \ 

by!" , 

He turned the indicator and mounted 
skyward, to the unbounded amazement of 
the fishermen, who stared after him with 
round eyes and wide open mouths. 

'* This sight will prove to them that the 
sailors are not crazy," he thought, as he 
turned to the south and sped away from the 
bluff. *^ I suppose those simple fishermen 
will never forget this wonderful occurrence, 
and they'll probably make reg'lar heroes of 
the two men who have crossed the Pacific 
through the air." 

He followed the coast line, keeping but a 
short distance above the earth, and after an 
hour's swift flight reached the city of San 
Francisco. 

His shoulders were sore and stiff from the 

2IQ 



THE COAST OF OREGON 

heavy strain upon them of the previous day, 
and he wished more than once that he had 
some of his mother's household Hniment to 
rub them with. Yet so great was his de- 
light at reaching once more his native land 
that all discomforts were speedily forgotten. 

Much as he would have enjoyed a day in 
the great metropolis of the Pacific slope, 
Rob dared not delay longer than to take a 
general view of the place, to note its hand- 
some edifices and to wonder at the throng 
of Chinese inhabiting one section of the 
town. 

These things were much more plainly and 
quickly viewed by Rob from above than by 
threading a way through the streets on foot; 
for he looked down upon the city as a bird 
does, and covered miles with a single glance. 

Having satisfied his curiosity without-at- 
tempting to alight, he turned to the south- 
east and followed the peninsula as far as 
Palo Alto, where he viewed the magnificent 
buildings of the university. Changing his 

211 



THE MASTER KEY 



course to the east, he soon reached Mount 
Hamilton, and, being attracted by the great 
tower of the Lick Observatory^, he hovered 
over it until he found he had attracted the 
excited gaze of its inhabitants, who doubt- 
less observed him very plamly through the 
big telescope. 

But so unreal and seemingly impossible 
was the sight witnessed by the learned 
astronomers that they have never ventured 
to make the incident public, although long 
after the boy had darted away into the east 
they argued together concerning the marvel- 
ous and incomprehensible vision. After- 
ward they secretly engrossed the circum- 
stance upon their records, but resolved 
never to mention it in public, lest their wis- 
dom and veracity should be assailed by the 
skeptical. 

Meantime Rob rose to a higher altitude, 
and sped swiftly across the great continent. 
By noon he sighted Chicago, and after a 
brief inspection of the place from the air 

212 



^41 ^--^ 1*^ 



THE COAST OF OREGOM 

determined to devote at least an hour to 
forming the acquaintance of this most won- 
derful and cosmopolitan city. 




CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 



A NARROW ESCAPE 



THE Auditorium Tower, where ^^the 
weather man" sits to flash his re- 
ports throughout the country, offered an 
inviting place for the boy to alight. He 
dropped quietly upon the roof of the great 
building and walked down the staircase 
until he reached the elevators, bv means of 
which he descended to the ground floor 
without exciting special attention. 

The eager rush and hurry of the people 
crowding the sidewalks impressed Rob with 
the idea that they were all behind time and 
were trying hard to catch up. He found 

214 



A NARROW ESCAPE 

it impossible to walk along comfortably 
without being elbowed and pushed from 
side to side; so a half hour's sight-seeing 
under such difficulties tired him greatly. It 
was a beautiful afternoon, and finding him- 
self upon the Lake Front, Rob hunted up 
a vacant bench and sat down to rest. 

Presently an elderly gentleman with a re- 
served and dignified appearance and dressed 
in black took a seat next to the boy and 
drew a magazine from his pocket. Rob saw 
that he opened it to an article on ^'The 
Progress of Modern Science," in which 
he seemed greatly interested. 

After a time the boy remembered that he 
was hungry, not having eaten a tablet in 
more than twenty-four hours. So he took 
out the silver box and ate one of the small, 
round disks it contained. 

' ' What are those ? ' ' inquired the old gen- 
tleman in a soft voice. ^^You are too 
young to be taking patent medicines." 

^* These are not medicines, exactly," an- 

215 



\ 



THE MASTER KE) 



swered the boy, with a smile. ^'They are 
Concentrated Food Tablets, stored with 
nourishment by means of electricity. One 
of them furnishes a person with food for an 
entire day." 

The old gentleman stared at Rob a mo- 
ment and then laid down his magazine and 
took the box in his hands, examining the 
tablets curiously. 

^^Are these patented?" he asked. 

^^ No," said Rob; '' they are unknown 
to any one but myself." 

*' I will give you a half million dollars 
for the recipe to make them," said the gen- 
tleman. 

^^ I fear I must refuse your offer," re- 
turned Rob, with a laugh. 

^^ I'll make it a million," said the gentle- 
man, coolly. 

Rob shook his head. 

^^ Money can't buy the recipe," he said; 
^' for I don't know it myself." 



216 



A NARROW ESCAPE 



"Couldn't the tablets be chemicallv an- 
al3^zed5 and the secret discovered?" in- 
quired the other. 

^' I don't know; but Pm not going to 
give any one the chance to try," declared 
the boy, firmly. 

The old gentleman picked up his maga- 
zine without another word, and resumed his 
reading. 

For amusement Rob took the Record of 
Events from his pocket and began looking 
at the scenes reflected from its polished 
plate. 

Presently he became aware that the old 
gentleman was peering over his shoulder 
with intense interest. General Funston 
was just then engaged in capturing the 
rebel chief, Aguinaldo, and for a few mo- 
ments both man and boy observed the oc- 
currence with rapt attention. As the scene 
was replaced by one showing a secret tun- 
nel of the Russian Nihilists, with the con- 



217 



v' 



I « 



THE MA S TER KEY 



spirators carrying dynamite to a recess 
underneath the palace of the Czar, the gen- 
tleman uttered a long sig^h and asked: 

'' Will you sell that box?" 

^^ No," answered Rob, shortly, and put 
it back into his pocket. 

** I'll give you a million dollars to con- 
trol the sale in Chicago alone," continued 
the gentleman, with an eager inflection in 
his smooth voice. 

*' You seem quite anxious to get rid of 
money," remarked Rob, carelessly. ^^How 
much are you worth .'^" 

'^ Personally?" 

^^Yes." 

^' Nothing at all, young man. I am not 
offering you my own money. But with 
such inventions as you have exhibited I 
could easily secure millions of capital. Sup- 
pose we form a trust, and place them upon 
the market. We'll capitalize it for a hun- 
dred millions, and you can have a quarter 
of the stock — twenty-five millions. That 

218 



A NA RR O W ES CA PE 

would keep you from worrying about groc- 
ery bills." 

^^ But I wouldn't need groceries if I had 
the tablets," said Rob, laughing. 

^^ True enough! But you could take life 
easily and read your newspaper in comfort, 
without being in any hurry to get down 
town to business. Twenty-five millions 
would bring you a cozy little income, if 
properly invested." 

'' I don't see why one should read news- 
papers when the Record of Events shows 
all that is going on in the world," objected 
Rob. 

*' True, true! But what do you say to 
the proposition?" 

'^ I must decline, with thanks. These 
inventions are not for sale." 

The gentleman sighed and resumed his 
magazine, in which he became much ab- 
sorbed. 

Rob put on the Character Marking Spec- 
tacles and looked at him. The letters ''E," 

219 



rilE MASTER KET 



^'W'" and ^'C" were plainly visible upon 
the composed, respectable looking brow of 
his companion. 

^^ Evil, wise and cruel," reflected Rob, 
as he restored the spectacles to his pocket. 
*^ How easily such a man could impose 
upon people. To look at him one would 
think that butter wouldn't melt in his 
mouth!" 

lie decided to part company with this 
chance acquaintance and, rising from his 
seat, strolled leisurely up the walk. A 
moment later, on looking back, he discov- 
ered that the old gentleman had disap- 
peared. 

He walked down State Street to the 
river and back again, amused by the activity 
displayed in this busy section of the city. 
But the time he had allowed himself in Chi- 
cago had now expired, so he began looking 
around for some high building from the roof 
of which he could depart unnoticed. 

This was not at all difficult, and selecting 

220 



_1£- 



A NARROW ESCAPE 

one of jnany stores he ascended b}^ an 
elevator to the top floor and from there 
mounted an iron stairway leading to the flat 
roof. As he climbed this stairway he found 
himself followed by a pleasant looking 
young man, who also seemed desirous of 
viewing the city from the roof. 

Annoyed at the inopportune intrusion, 
Rob's first thought was to go back to the 
street and try another building; but, upon 
reflecting that the young man was not likely 
to remain long and he would soon be alone, 
he decided to wait. So he walked to the 
edge of the roof and appeared to be inter- 
ested in the scenery spread out below him. 

'' Fme view from here, ain't it?" said 
the young man, coming up to him and 
placing his hand carelessly upon the boy's 
shoulder. 

" It is, indeed," replied Rob, leaning 
over the edge to look into the street. 

As he spoke he felt himself gently but 
firmly pushed from behind and, losing his 

221 



THE MA S TER KE T 

balance, he plunged headforemost from the 
roof and whirled through the interv^ening 
space toward the sidewalk far below. 

Terrified though he was by the sudden 
disaster, the boy had still wit enough re- 
maining to reach out his right hand and 
move the indicator of the machine upon his 
left wrist to the zero mark. Immediatel}- 
he paused in his fearful flight and presently 
came to a stop at a distance of less than fif- 
teen feet from the flagstones which had 
threatened to crush out his life. 

As he stared downward, trying to recover 
his self-possession, he saw the old gentle- 
man he had met on the Lake Front stand- 
ing just below and looking at him with a 
half frightened, half curious expression in 
his eyes. 

At once Rob saw through the whole plot 
to kill him and thus secure possession of his 
electrical devices. The young man upon 
the roof who had attempted to push him to 
his death was a confederate of the innocent 

ZZ'i 



•^^^AaS^ 



A NARROW ESCAPE 

appearing old gentleman, it seemed, and 
the latter had calmly awaited his fall to the 
pavement to seize the coveted treasures from 
his dead body. It was an awful idea, and 
Rob was more frightened than he had ever 
been before in his life— or ever has been 
since. 

But now the shouts of a vast concourse of 

* 

amazed spectators reached the boy's ears. 
He remembered that he was suspended in 
mid-air over the crowded street of a great 
city, while thousands of wondering eyes 
were fixed upon him. 

So he quickly set the indicator to the word 
^^up," an'd mounted sky-ward until the 
watchers below could scarcely see him. 
Then he fled away into the east, even yet 
shuddering with the horror of his recent 
escape from death and filled with disgust at 
the knowledge that there were people who 
held human life so lightly that they were 
willing to destroy it to further their own 
selfish ends. 

223 



THE MASTER KEY 



K 



'*And the Demon wants such people as 
these to possess his electrical devices, which 
are as powerful to accomplish evil when in 
wrong hands as they are good! " thought 
the boy, resentfully. *^This would be a 
fine world if Electric Tubes and Records of 
Events and Traveling Machines could be 
acquired by selfish and unprincipled per- 
sons! " 

So unnerved was Rob by his recent ex- 
periences that he determined to make no 
more stops. However, he alighted at 
nightfall in the country, and slept upon the 
sweet hay in a farmer's barn. 

But, early the next morning, before an}' 
one else was astir, he resumed his journey, 
and at precisely ten o'clock of this day, 
which was Saturday, he completed his flying 
trip around the world by alighting unob- 
served upon the well-trimmed lawn of his 
own home. 




CHA PTER NINE TEEN 

ROB MAKES A RESOLUTION 

WHEN Rob opened the front door 
he came face to face with Nell, 
who gave an exclamation of joy and threw 
herself into his arms. 

"Oh, Rob 1" she cried, "I'm so glad 
you've come. We have all been dreadfully 
worried about you, and mother — " 

"Well, what about mother.'" inquired 
the boy, anxiously, as she paused. 

" She's been very ill, Rob; and the doc- 
tor said to-day that unless we heard from 
you soon he would not be able to save her 

235 



THE MASTER KET 

life. The uncertainty about vou is killing 
her/" 

Rob stood stock still, all the eager joy of 
his return frozen into horror at the thouj^^lit 
that he had caused his dear mother so much 
sufferint^. 

•* Where is she, Xell?"' he asked, brok- 
enly. 

*" In her room. Come; I'll take you to 
her." 

Rob followed with beating heart, and 
soon was clasped close to his mother''s 
breast. 

*' Oh, my boy — my dear boy!" she mur- 
mured, and then for very jo}' and love she 
was unable to sav more, but held him ti«:ht 
and stroked his hair gently and kissed hiin 
again and again. 

Rob said little, except to promise that he 
would never again leave home without her 
full consent and knowleds^e. But in his 
mind he contrasted the love and comfort 
that now surrounded him with the lonely 

226 



ROB MAKES A RESOLUTION 



and unnatural life he had been leading and, 
boy though he was in years, a mighty reso- 
lution that would have been creditable to 
an experienced man took firm root in his 
heart. 

He was obliged to lecount all his adven- 
tures to his mother and, although he made 
light of the dangers he had passed through, 
the story drew many sighs and shudders 
from her. 

When luncheon time arrived he met his 
father, and Mr. Joslyn took occasion to re- 
prove his son in strong language for run- 
ning away from home and leaving them 
filled with anxiety as to his fate. How- 
ever, when he saw how happy and im- 
proved in health his dear wife was at her 
boy's return, and when he had listened 
to Rob's manly confession of error and ex- 
pressions of repentance, he speedily forgave 
the culprit and treated him as genially as 
ever. 

Of course the whole story had to be re- 

227 



|x?ated, his sisters listening this time with 
open eyes and ears and admiring their ad- 
venturous brother immensely. Even Mr. 
Joslyn could not help becoming profoundly 
interested, but he took care not to show 
any pride he might feel in his son's achieve- 
ments. 

When his father returned to his office Rob 
went to his own bed-chamber and sat for a 
long time by the window in deep thought. 
When at last he aroused himself, he found 
it was nearly four o'clock. 

**The Demon will be here presently," he 
said, with a thrill of aversion, ^^and I must 
be in the workshop to receive him." 

Silently he stole to the foot of the attic 
stairs and then paused to listen. The house 
seemed very quiet, but he could hear his 
mother's voice softly humming a cradle- 
song that she had sung to him when he was 
a baby. 

He had been nervous and unsettled and 
a little fearful until then, but perhaps the 

228 



\ 



THE MASTER KET I 



ROn MAKES A RESOLCriON 

s.ouncl of his mother's voice gave him cour- 
age, for he b'blcllv aHcend^d the stairs and 
entered the workshop, closing and locking 
the door behind him. 




CHAPTER TWENTT 



THE UNHAPPY FATE OF THE DEMON 



AGAIN the atmosphere quickened and 
pulsed with accumulating vibrations. 
Again the boy found himself aroused to 
eager expectancy. There was a whirl in 
the air; a crackling like distant musketry; 
a flash of dazzling light — and the Demon 
stood before him for the third time. 

'' I give you greetings!'' said he, in a 
voice not unkindly. 

^^Good afternoon, Mr. Demon," an- 
swered the boy, bowing gravely. 

'' I see you have returned safely from 
your trip," continued the Apparition, cheer- 

230 



UNHAPPY FA TE OF THE DEAfOA 



fully, ^^although at one time I thought 
you would be unable to escape. Indeed, 
unless I had knocked that tube from the 
rascally Turk's hand as he clambered to the 
top of the wall, I believe 3^ou would 
have been at the Yarkand oasis yet — either 
dead or alive, as chance might determine." 

'' Were you there? " asked Rob. 

" To be sure. And I recovered the tube 
for you, without which you would have been 
helpless. But that is the only time I saw 
fit to interfere in any way." 

*^ I'm afraid I did not get a chance to give 
many hints to inventors or scientists," said 
Rob. 

" True, and I have deeply regretted it," 
replied the Demon. " But your unusual 
powers caused more astonishment and con- 
sternation than you, perhaps, imagined; 
for many saw you whom you were too busy 
to notice. As a result several able electri- 
cians are now thinking new thoughts along 
new Imes, and some of them may soon 

231 



THE MASTER KEI 



give these or similar inventions to the 
world.'' 

^^ You are satisfied, then?" asked Rob. 

^^As to that," returned the Demon, com- 
posedly, '' I am not. But I have hopes 
that with the addition of the three marvel- 
ous devices I shall present you with to-day 
you will succeed in arousing so much popu- 
lar interest in electrical inventions as to 
render me wholly satisfied with the result 
of this experiment." 

Rob regarded the brilliant apparition 
with a solemn face, but made no answer. 

" No living person," continued the De- 
mon, " has ever before been favored with 
such comforting devices for the presei'vation 
and extension of human life as yourself. 
You seem quite un appreciative, it is true; 
but since our connection I have come to 
realize that you are but an ordinary boy, 
with many boyish limitations; so I do not 
condemn your foolish actions too harshly." 



232 



■aop 



UN HA PPT FA TE OF THE DEMO 7^ 



'' That is kind of you," said Rob. 

'^ To prove my friendliness," pursued 
the Demon, " I have brought, as the first 
of to-day's offerings, this Electro-Magnetic 
Restorer. You see it is shaped like a thin 
metal band, and is to be worn upon the 
brow, clasping at the back of the head. 
Its virtues surpass those of either the fabu- 
lous 'Fountain of Youth,' or the 'Elixir 
of Life,' so vainly sought for in past ages. 
For its wearer will instantly become free 
from any bodily disease or pain and will 
enjoy perfect health and vigor. In truth, 
so great are its powers that even the dead 
may be restored to life, provided the blood 
has not yet chilled. In presenting 3'ou with 
this appliance, I feel I am bestowing upon 
you the greatest blessing and most longed- 
for boon ever bequeathed to suffering hu- 
manity." 

Here he held the slender, dull-colored 
metallic band toward the boy. 



233 



THE MASTER KEl 



*^ Keep it," said Rob. 

The Demon started, and gave him an 
odd look. 

^* What did you say?" he asked. 

^' I told you to keep it," answered Rob. 
" I don't want it." 

The Demon staggered back as if he had 
been struck. 

'' Don't want it!" he gasped. 

** No; I've had enough of your infernal 
inventions!" cried the boy, with sudden 
anger. 

lie unclasped the traveling machine 
from his wrist and laid it on the table beside 
the Demon. 

'^ There's the thing that's responsible for 
most of my troubles," said he, bitterly. 
'' What right has one person to fly through 
the air while all his fellow-creatures crawl 
over the earth's surface? And why should 
I be cut off from all the rest of the world 
because you have given me this confounded 
traveling machine? I didn't ask for it, and 

234 



UNHAPPT FA TE OF THE DEMON 

I won't keep it a moment longer. Give it to 
some one you hate more than you do me! " 

The Demon stared aghast and turned his 
glittering eyes wonderingly from Rob to the 
traveling machine and back again, as if to 
be sure he had heard and seen aright. 

^^And here are your food tablets," con- 
tinued the boy, placing the box upon the 
table. '^ I've only enjoyed one square meal 
since you gave them to me. They're all 
right to preserve life, of course, and answer 
the purpose for which they were made; but 
I don't believe nature ever intended us to 
exist upon such things, or we wouldn't have 
the sense of taste, which enables us to enjoy 
natural food. As long as I'm a human 
being I'm going to eat like a human being, 
so I've consumed my last Electrical Con- 
centrated Food Tablet — and don't you for- 
get it!" 

The Demon sank into a chair, nerveless 
and limp, but still staring fearfully at the 
boy. 

235 



THE MASTER KEY 



*^And there's another of your unnatural 
devices,'' said Rob, putting the Automatic 
Record of Events upon the table beside the 
other things. '^What right have you to 
capture vibrations that radiate from private 
and secret actions and discover them to 
others who have no business to know them? 
This would be a fine world if every body 
could peep into every one else's affairs, 
wouldn't it? And here is your Character 
Marker. Nice thing for a decent person to 
own, isn't it? Any one who would take ad- 
vantage of such a sneakmg invention as that 
would be worse than a thief! Oh, I've used 
them, of course, and I ought to be spanked 
for having been so mean and underhanded; 
but I'll never be guilty of looking through 
them again." 

The Demon's face was frowning and 
indignant. lie made a motion to rise, but 
thought better of it and sank back in his 
chair. 



^}^ 



UNHAPPY FATE OF THE DEMON 

*^As for the Garment of Protection," re- 
sumed the boy, after a pause, " I've worn 
it for the last time, and here it is, at your 
service. I'll put the Electric Tube with it. 
Not that these are such very bad things in 
themselves, but I'll have none of your mag- 
ical contrivances. I'll say this, however: if 
all armies were equipped with Electrical 
Tubes instead of guns and swords the world 
would be spared a lot of miser}' and un- 
necessary bloodshed. Perhaps they will be, 
in time; but that time hasn't arrived yet." 

" You might have hastened it," said the 
Demon, sternly, '' if j^ou had been wise 
enough to use your powers properly." 

'^ That's just it," answered Rob. ^^I'm 
not wise enough. Nor is the majority of 
mankind wise enough to use such inven- 
tions as yours unselfishly and for the good 
of the world. If people were better, and 
every one had an equal show, it would be 
different." 



\i 



237 



THE MASTER KEl 



For some moments the Demon sat quietly 
thinkinf;. Finally the frown left his face , 

and he said, with animation: 

" I have other inventions, which you may 
use without any such qualms of conscience. 
The Electro-Magnetic Restorer I offered 
you would be a great boon to your race, 
and could not possibly do harm. And, be- 
sides this, I have brought you what I call 
the Illimitable Communicator. It is a sim- 
ple electric device which will enable you, 
wherever you may be, to converse with 
people in any part of the world, without the 
use of such crude connections as wires. In 
fact, you may" — 

" Stop! " cried Rob. ^' It is useless for 
you to describe it, because I'll have nothing 
more to do with you or your inventions. I 
have given them a fair trial, and they've got 
me into all sorts of trouble and made all mj' 
friends miserable. If I was some high-up 
scientist it woulc^ be different; but Pm just 



238 



UNHAPPr FA TE OF THE DEMON 

a common boy, and I don't want to be any- 
thing else." 

'^ But, your duty — " began the Demon. 

^^My duty I owe to myself and to my 
family," interrupted Rob. '^ I have never 
cultivated scien^jfe, more than to fool with 
some simple electrical experiments, so I owe 
nothing to ftith^r science or the Demon of 
Electricity, so far as I can see." 

^' But consider," remonstrated the De- 
mon, rising to his feet and speaking in a 
pleading voice, " consider the years that 
must elapse before any one else is likely to 
strike the Master Key! And, in the mean- 
while, consider my helpless position, cut 
off from all interest in the world while I 
have such wonderful inventions on my 
hands for the benefit of mankind. If you 
have no love for science or for the advance- 
ment of civilization, do have some consider- 
ation for your fellow-creatures, and for 
me!" 



239 



THE MASTER KEY 



*' If my fellow-creatures would have as 
much trouble with your electrical inventions 
as I had, I am doing them a service by de- 
priving them of your devices." said the 
boy. '*As for yourself, I've no fault to find 
with you, personally. You'' re a verj- de- 
cent sort of Demon, and I've no doubt you 
mean well; but there's something wrong 
about our present combination, I'm sure. 
It isn't natural." 

The Demon made a gesture of despair. 

'' Why, oh why did not some intelligent 
person strike the Master Key!" he moaned. 

^'That's it!" exclaimed Rob. '^ I be- 
lieve that's the root of the whole evil." 

^' What is ?" inquired the Demon, stu- 
pidly. 

'' The fact that an intelligent person did 
not strike the Master Key. You don't seem 
to understand. Well, I'll explain. You're 
the Demon of Electricity, aren't you?" 

" I am," said the other, drawing him- 
self up proudly, 

^40 



UN HA PPT FA TE OF THE DEMON 

" Your mission is to obey the commands 
of whoever is able to strike the Master Key 
of Electricity." 

" That is true.'' 

^^ I once read in a book that all things 
are regulated by exact laws of nature. If 
that is so you probably owe your existence 
to those laws." The Demon nodded. 
" Doubtless it was intended that when 
mankind became intelligent enough and ad- 
vanced enough to strike the Master Key, 
you and all your devices would not only be 
necessary and acceptable to them, but the 
world would be prepared for their general 
use. That seems reasonable, doesn't it? " 

" Perhaps so. Yes; it seems reason- 
able," answered the Demon, thoughtfully. 

'^Accidents are always liable to happen," 
continued the boy. '^By accident the Master 
Key was struck long before the world of 
science was ready for it — or for you. In- 
stead of considering it an accident and pay- 
ing no attention to it you immediately ap- 

241 



THE MASTER KEY 



peared to mc — a mere boy — and offered 

your services." 

^'I was very anxious to do something," 

returned the Demon, evasively. ''You've 
no idea how stupid it is for me to live in- 
visible and unknown, while all the time I 
have in my possession secrets of untold 
benefit to the world." 

" Well, you'll have to keep cool and bide 
your time," said Rob. "The world wasn't 
made in a minute, and while civilization is 
going on at a pretty good pace, we're not 
up to the Demon of Electricity yet." 

"What shall I do! " groaned the Appari- 
tion, wringing his hands miserably; "oh, 
what shall I do! " 

" Go home and lie down," replied Rob, 
sympathetically. "Take it easy and don't 
get rattled. Nothing was ever created with- 
out a use, they say; so your turn will come 
some day, sure! I'm sorry for you, old fel- 
low, but it's all your own fault." 

"You are right! " exclaimed the Demon ^ 

242 



UNITAPPTFA TE OF THE DEMON 



striding up and down the room, and caus- 
ing thereby such a crackling of electricity in 
the air that Rob's hair became rigid enough 
to stand on end. "You are right, and I 
must wait — wait — wait — patiently and si- 
lently — until my bonds are loosed by intel- 
ligence rather than chance! It is a drearj^ 
fate. But I must wait — I must wait — I 
must wait!" 

" I'm glad j^ou'vecome to your senses," 
remarked Rob, drily. "So, if you've noth- 
ing more to say — " 

" No! I have nothing more to say. There 
is nothing more to say. You and I are 
two. We should never have met!" re- 
torted the Demon, showing great excite- 
ment. 

" Oh, I didn't seek your acquaintance," 
said Rob. " But I've tried to treat you de- 
cently, and I've no fault to find with you 
except that you forgot you were a slave and 
tried to be a master." 

The Demon did not reply. He was bus- 

243 



1 

I 



THE MA S TER KET 



ily forcing the various electrical devices that 
Rob had relinquished into the pockets of his 
fiery jacket. 

Finally he turned with an abrupt move- 
ment. 

^^Good-by!" he cried. ^^ When mortal 
eyes next behold me they will be those of 
one fit to command my services! As for 
you, your days will be passed in obscurity 
and your name be unknown to fame. Grood- 
by, — forever!" 

The room filled with a flash of white light 
so like a sheet of lightning that the boy 
went reeling backwards, half stunned and 
blinded by its dazzling intensity. 

When he recovered himself the Demon 
of Electricity had disappeared. 

***** 

Rob's heart was very light as he left the f 

workshop and made his way down the attic \ 

stairs. 

'' Some people might think I was a fool to 
give up those electrical inventions," he re- 

244 



\ 



\ 



UNHAPPY FA TE OF THE DEMON 

fleeted; "but I'm one of those persons who 
know when they've had enough. It strikes 
me the fool is the fellow who can't learn a 
lesson. I've learned mine, all ri«;ht. It's 
no fun being a century ahead of the timesi" 



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